World

Philippines braces for Christmas Day super typhoon

A powerful typhoon was heading for a Christmas Day collision with the central Philippines.

Heavy rainfall, winds and waves threaten heavily populated areas

Filipino villagers carrying belongings enter a school turned into a temporary evacuation centre on Christmas Eve in the town of Tabaco, Philippines. According to news reports, thousands have fled the coastal villages. (Zalrian Sayat/EPA)

A powerful typhoon was heading for a Christmas Day collision with the central Philippines.

Nock-Ten has intensified into a super typhoon with maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h and gusts of up to 215 km/h and it heads for landfall over Cataduanes Island in the central Bicol region.

It's then forecast to drag across the southern portion of the main Luzon island as it passes close to the capital, Manila, and begins to weaken.

Heavy rainfall, damaging winds and battering waves are threatening heavily populated areas, where the Philippine weather bureau raised storm signals and warned that sea travel is risky along the eastern seaboard.

The typhoon strength is equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic.

On Sunday morning, the typhoon was less than 200 kilometres east of Cataduanes. It's expected to slam ashore around 7 p.m. local time.

About 20 typhoons and storms each year lash the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan struck the central Philippines with ferocious power, leaving more than 7,300 people dead and displacing more than five million others after leveling entire villages.

A Filipino ferryman steers his boat at a river on Christmas Eve in Makati city, south of Manila, Philippines. (Francis R. Malasig/EPA)