Typhoon Hagibis. - Photo: JTWC
A powerful super-typhoon is bearing down on the Northern Marianas, with the storm's eye passing over the territory's remote northern islands early on Tuesday.
Schools and government offices have been ordered closed, with much of the territory on the highest state of alert because of Typhoon Hagibis.
US President Donald Trump has approved an emergency declaration for Super Typhoon Hagibis, freeing up disaster relief and emergency assistance for the territory.
In a statement on Tuesday, Governor Ralph Torres said the Federal Emergency Management Agency will now coordinate all relief efforts and assist first responders.
Super #Typhoon #Hagibis in the Western Pacific, seen by #Himawari8, rapidly intensified during the weekend and is continuing to gain strength, with maximum sustained winds at 150 mph and gusts up to 184 mph.— NOAA Satellites (@NOAASatellites) October 7, 2019
More imagery: https://t.co/Qezcgo0FPA pic.twitter.com/yAxOgcYruw
RNZ Pacific's correspondent said evacuation centres had quickly filled, with hundreds of people still living in tents or makeshift homes nearly a year after the devastation wrought by Supertyphoon Yutu.
A meteorologist at the National Weather Service on Guam, Brandon Bukunt, said the main island, Saipan, could expect winds gusting as high as 130km/h for much of the day as the storm slowly moves away.
"The wind field is likely broadening, and so even though it's pushing away it's maintaining strong winds across the islands," said Mr Bukunt. "But as far as specific damage, we don't have that information yet."
Mr Bukunt said flood warnings were also in force for Guam, to the south.