MANILA, Philippines - Thousands of villagers fled from their homes as a strong typhoon roared closer to the southern Philippines, prompting authorities to suspend sea travel in high-risk areas and halt gold-mining in a town notorious for deadly landslides.

The day before the storm's forecast Tuesday morning landfall, President Benigno Aquino III appeared on nationwide TV to appeal to people in Typhoon Bopha's path to move to safety and take storm warnings seriously. "This typhoon is not a joke," Aquino said Monday after meeting top officials in charge of disaster-response.

The storm was approaching from the Pacific Ocean with sustained winds of 109 m.p.h. and gusts of up to 130 m.p.h.

Bopha, which has a 373-mile-wide rain band, was expected to barrel across southern and central provinces before blowing out into the South China Sea on Thursday, according to government forecasters.

Aquino said army troops were deploying search and rescue boats in advance and villagers were being preemptively evacuated.