MANILA: Typhoon Kammuri barrelled towards the Philippines on Monday (Dec 2), pushing tens of thousands of people into evacuation centres and prompting authorities to order a temporary closure of Manila's international airport as a safety precaution.
Kammuri was expected to make landfall late Monday or early Tuesday and then pass to the south of the capital, which is home to about 13 million people and is hosting thousands of athletes for the 30th SEA Games.
Airport officials said they made the call based on the potency of the storm, which was forecast to come ashore with intense rains and sustained winds of up to 165kmh as well as gusts of up to 230kmh, forecasters said.
"Based on our estimate, it will be closed from 11am to 11pm tomorrow, Dec 3," said Ed Monreal, general manager of Manila's airport authority.
The exact time that flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) can resume will depend on the strength of the typhoon, local media Rappler said quoting the officials.
When flight operations resume, scheduled flights will be prioritised, followed by recovery flights that had prior approval from the airport authority, added the report
Singapore Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines have said their flights will be affected by the suspension.
READ: Evacuations in Philippines as Typhoon Kammuri affects SEA Games events
Nearly 70,000 people had already fled their homes in the Bicol region, disaster officials said, which is where the typhoon is expected to strike first.
"The wind is howling. Roofs are being torn off and I saw one roof flying," local resident Gladys Castillo Vidal told AFP.
But some residents opted to stay put even as the storm's power began to hit.
"We decided to stay because our house is a two-storey made of concrete ... Hopefully it can withstand the storm," said Vidal.
According to a 5pm bulletin by Philippines’ state weather bureau PAGASA, the southern eyeball of Typhoon Kammuri, known locally as Typhoon Tisoy, is now bringing “intense rainfall and violent winds” over Northern Samar.
“Frequent to continuous heavy to intense rains” are forecast over Metro Manila as well as central Luzon from morning to evening on Tuesday, PAGASA said.
The weather bureau also warned of rain-induced landslides and possible storm surges of up to 3m which could hit coastal areas in the nation's east.
The typhoon will also affect competition schedule for at least eight different sports at the Subic cluster of the 30th SEA Games, organisers announced on Monday.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, killing hundreds and putting people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.
The country's deadliest cyclone on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.