Authorities in the Philippines have begun evacuating thousands of villagers, closed down schools and offices and imposed a sailing ban as Typhoon Mawar approaches the country’s northern provinces.

The precautions come a week after the US territory of Guam was battered by the storm.

The typhoon is packing maximum sustained winds of 96mph and gusts of up to 118mph, but is forecast to spare the mountainous region a direct hit.

Current projections show the typhoon veering north-east towards Taiwan or southern Japan.

Although the storm is expected to slow down considerably, authorities have warned of dangerous tidal surges, flash floods and landslides as it blows past the northernmost province of Batanes from Tuesday to Wednesday.

Disaster-preparedness officials said the typhoon’s course could change abruptly and there is no room for complacency.

Flooded building
The aftermath of the typhoon that struck Hagatna, Guam (AP)

Assistant secretary Raffy Alejandro of the office of civil defence told The Associated Press: “Even if the sun is up, the weather is so unpredictable nowadays and could change anytime so we should always stay on the side of safety.

“We’re talking here of potential threats to lives.”

Mawar tore through Guam last week as the strongest typhoon to hit the US Pacific territory in over two decades, overturning cars, tearing off roofs and knocking down power.

Batanes vice-governor Ignacio Villa said: “These typhoons, earthquakes and natural calamities have been a part of our lives.

“We cannot afford not to prepare because that would potentially mean the loss of lives and major damage.”

Overturned truck
Typhoon Mawar was strong enough to overturn trucks on Guam (Chris Leavitt via AP)

Army troops, police, firefighters and volunteer groups are standing by for search and rescue operations in northern provinces and more than a million food packs have been prepared for any contingency, officials said.

More than 4,800 people have been evacuated to emergency shelters in Cagayan, Batanes and other provinces, Mr Alejandro said.

He added that the number of the displaced was expected to rise given the precautionary evacuations that were under way on Monday in flood and landslide-prone regions.

Classes and office work, except those involved in disaster-preparedness, have been suspended in most of Cagayan and Batanes provinces, where occasional downpours and gusty winds were reported on Sunday night.

Flights to and from the provinces have been cancelled and fishing and passenger vessels prohibited from sailing.

In at least one province, officials imposed a liquor ban.

Mr Villa said the local government lent ropes to villagers living in high-risk communities to strengthen their houses as the typhoon approached.

About 20 typhoons and storms each year batter the Philippine archipelago, which also lies on seismic faults where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur, making the south-east Asian nation one of the world’s most disaster-prone.

In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland, demolished about a million shanties and houses and displaced more than five million in one of the country’s poorest regions in the central Philippines.