Typhoon Koppu grew stronger but was moving slower toward the northeastern Philippines late Saturday as the government urged local authorities to issue forced evacuations of residents in flood-prone areas. Local officials have been advised to conduct the “forced evacuation” of communities historically hit by flash floods and landslides as well as coastal villages at risk from destructive storm surges that could reach as high as 3 meters (10 feet), civil defense chief Alexander Pama said.

“The situation is critical because the winds are getting stronger and it will get stronger as (Koppu) moves closer,” he said. Regional civil defense chief Norma Talosig said villagers had been voluntarily moving to safer ground or emergency shelters since early Saturday. She could not immediately give the number of evacuees. Heavy rains are expected to inundate many areas on the main northern island of Luzon even before the typhoon makes landfall early Sunday, acting weather bureau chief Esperanza Cayanan said. MORE