The Philippines moved thousands of people to safer ground and stockpiled food, with flights canceled as the country prepares for Super Typhoon Hagupit, a category-5 storm expected to make landfall tomorrow.
Hagupit, which means “whip” in Filipino, was 500 kilometers (311 miles) east of Eastern Samar province, gaining strength as it moves toward land, with maximum winds of 215 kilometers per hour and gusts reaching 250 kilometers per hour, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said in a 5 a.m. report.
The storm is expected to bring heavy rain of as much as 20 millimeters (0.8 inches) per hour within its 700-kilometer diameter, the weather bureau said.
About 10,000 people have been evacuated in Dinagat Islands and Leyte provinces, according to officials. Cebu Air Inc. and affiliate Tigerair Philippines canceled several flights to the islands of Visayas and Mindanao, Cebu said in an advisory on its website. Rubber boats, power generators and chainsaws have been stockpiled in Visayas, according to the Office of Civil Defense.
The Philippines, battered by cyclones that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the second most-at-risk nation globally from tropical storms after Japan, according to Maplecroft, a research company based in Bath in the U.K. Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm in the world to hit land, killed more than 6,200 people in November last year and left more than a thousand missing.
Hagupit is tracking a path similar to Haiyan, which devastated the central Philippines, the weather bureau said. Hagupit is a super typhoon, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm will probably affect about two thirds of the nation’s provinces, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said yesterday.
President Benigno Aquino, during a meeting at the disaster- risk agency yesterday, ordered government agencies to secure rice warehouses, power and telecommunications for critical operations, according to a televised briefing of the meeting in Manila. Nineteen provinces within the first 100-kilometer radius of the storm’s central track are considered highly critical areas, where damage to agriculture is expected to be heavy, travel dangerous and moderate to heavy disruption of electricity likely, state meteorologists said.
At least 8,000 people are staying at 21 evacuation centers in Dinagat, provincial public information officer Jane Mayola said. About 1,500 people have left their homes near the shore in Tacloban City in Leyte province, where thousands were killed when Haiyan triggered storm surges, Superintendent Carlos Centinaje, police community relations officer in Eastern Visayas, said by phone.
The government is studying declaring a state of national emergency before the typhoon hits so prices of basic commodities can be frozen amid reports of hoarding in some areas, Aquino said yesterday. “We want to bring in more supplies to stop panic buying,” he said.
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