Philippine forecasters have warned fishing boats not to venture out to sea and commercial ships to watch out for big waves as a powerful typhoon roars off the country's northeastern coast.

Government forecaster Aldzar Aurelio said today that fast-moving Typhoon Nepartak would not likely hit land but would intensify seasonal southwest monsoon rains, which could spark thunderstorms and flash floods on the main northern Luzon island. Some domestic flights have been cancelled in the region.

Aurelio says Nepartak was blowing over the Philippine Sea about 235 kilometers northeast of Batanes province with sustained winds of 220 kilometers per hour and gusts of 255 km/h.

The typhoon can still gain strength and will start to blow away from the Philippines tomorrow and head toward Taiwan.

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In preparation, around 3,000 tourists have been evacuated from the Green and Orchid Islands, two popular tourists spots off south-eastern Taitung county, local government officials told the BBC.

Some 35,000 soldiers have been put on standby, according to the defence ministry.

- Herald online, AP