Authorities in the Philippines are bracing for the arrival of Typhoon Haiyan, which is expected to strike central parts of the country on Friday.
The category five storm is moving towards the South East Asian nation with winds of up to 278 km/h (173mph).
Haiyan - known as Yolanda in the Philippines - is the strongest storm to hit the Pacific this year.
Schools and offices have already been closed in the region and thousands of people are being evacuated.
Typhoon Haiyan is expected to make landfall at around 09:00 local (01:00 GMT) on Friday between Samar and Leyte, two of the Visayan Islands in central Philippines.
It is then forecast to move over to the South China Sea north of Palawan Island on Saturday, meteorologists say.
In its path are areas already struggling to recover from a 7.3-magnitude earthquake last month, including the worst-hit island of Bohol.
Around 5,000 people are still living in tents in Bohol after losing their homes in the quake, which killed more than 200 people.
The military says its transporting food packages and relief goods to remote communities, and has helicopters on stand-by. Ferry operations have already been suspended and fishing boats ordered back to port.
Thousands of people from villages at risk have been evacuated across several provinces, while schools and offices have shut.
Some areas are already experiencing strong winds and heavy rains, according to Ben Evardone, a member of Congress from Eastern Samar province.
"I have issued a call to prepare for the worst," he told Reuters news agency.
"We have mobilised all LGUs (local government units) and all resources for any contingency. There were already forced and pre-emptive evacuations in some danger areas," he said.
Meteorologists in the Philippines warned that Haiyan could be as devastating as Typhoon Bopha in 2012.
Bopha devastated parts of the southern Philippines, leaving at least 1,000 people dead and causing more than $1bn (£620m) in damage.
"This is a very dangerous typhoon, local officials know where the vulnerable areas are and have given instructions on evacuations," state weather forecaster Glaiza Escullar told AFP.
"There are not too many mountains on its path to deflect the force of impact, making it more dangerous."
It is the 25th typhoon to enter Philippine territory this year.
Pascal Canning from Maasin City, in Southern Leyte, says all schools have been shut in his area and some residents have left their homes.
"Lots of families in not-so-stable dwellings are either moving in with relatives, or to the evacuation centres. Some of our employees will sleep on our premises tonight."
"The biggest worry is the possibility of mudslides... There is an eerie feeling of anticipation amongst us: excited but scared, because at this time there is total calm that we know will not last."