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The Philippine island of Luzon — the largest and most populated island in the archipelago — is on high alert as a super typhoon roars across the western Pacific.

Super typhoon Haima — known locally as Typhoon Lawin — was sighted 385 km east of Casiguran, Aurora, according to the latest bulletin posted by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Wednesday morning. It was packing sustained winds of up to 220 km/h near its center, with gusts of up to 305 km/h, and is expected to make landfall late Wednesday or early Thursday.

Pagasa is expected to raise Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 4 or 5 – the Philippines highest level of alert – on Wednesday evening in Cagayan, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, and northern Isabela.

Around 19 tropical cyclones or storms enter the so-called Philippine Area of Responsibility per year but less than half make landfall. In November 2013, Haiyan, the deadliest Philippine typhoon on record, killed at least 6,300 people in the country and caused millions of dollars worth of damage.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has warned regional and local agencies to undertake “high-level” precautions. It says Haima could trigger landslides and flash floods in low-lying areas, and that coastal storm surges could reach up to five meters.

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