More than half a million people in the Philippines have fled from a powerful typhoon in one of the world’s biggest peacetime evacuations, as the storm threatens to wreak more destruction on areas still bearing the scars of a super typhoon 13 months ago.

Residents of Samar island said they were experiencing strong winds, heavy rain and blackouts on Saturday as Typhoon Hagupit churned towards eastern provinces of the archipelago.

The storm had weakened to category 3, two notches below “super typhoon”, but could still unleash huge destruction with torrential rain and potentially disastrous storm surges of up to 4.5 metres (15 ft).

“Ruby’s lashing will be severe,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told government radio, referring to the local name for Typhoon Hagupit. “Let’s be alert. Let’s evacuate to prevent any harm to your families.”

With winds of up to 175 kph (110 mph) near the centre and gusts of up to 220 kph (137 mph), the storm was moving slowly at 13 kph (8 mph), the weather bureau PAGASA said, and was expected to hit Eastern Samar province between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (1200-1400 GMT).

“The wind feels like there’s a huge electric fan blowing air from the Pacific,” said Roxas, speaking from Eastern Samar… see more

source: cnbc