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Typhoons: Asia's mega-storms

She has also ordered officials to carry out evacuations by force if necessary.

The evacuations come as millions or survivors struggle to cope with the aftermath of tropical storm Ketsana, which flooded large parts of the capital, Manila, and left nearly 300 people dead.

Several areas of the city remain under water almost a week after the storm hit.

Parma is expected to hit on Saturday, gathering strength as it nears [AFP]
Ketsana struck the Philippine last Saturday, and strengthened to a typhoon before battering Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos where it caused more flooding and left dozens dead.

On Friday Philippine officials said evacuations had begun in low-lying and mountainous villages in several provinces north and east of Manila, with plans to relocate other communities as Parma's path becomes clearer.

Troops and civilian emergency teams are on alert, with the storm expected to make landfall near northeastern Quirino and Isabela provinces on Luzon by Saturday if it remains on its present course.

"We're concerned about the effects of more rain on the relief work in flooded areas because the water level could rise again," Gilberto Teodoro, the Philippines defence secretary, said on national television.

Teodoro, who also heads the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said emergency teams have been ordered to stockpile food, water, medicine, fuel and other supplies as relief work continued in the wake of Ketsana.

'Gathering strength'

Weather officials said Parma was increasing in strength and could be one of the strongest to hit the country since Typhoon Durian in 2006, which killed around 1,000 people after heavy rains triggered a series of deadly mudslides in the central Philippines.

"It's gathering strength into a category 5 typhoon," Nathaniel Cruz, the chief weather forecaster, told Reuters.

"By Saturday afternoon, Parma could be packing centre winds of more than 200kmh and could be weakened once it slams into the Cordillera mountain region in the north."

In Taiwan, authorities identified 12 villages for mandatory evacuation ahead of the arrival of Parma and another storm brewing in the Pacific, Typhoon Melor.

Taiwan's government came in for heavy criticism after a deadly typhoon in August killed as many as 770 people.