Typhoon Hagupit: Philippines braces as storm nears

Thousands evacuate coastal areas a year after ‘super typhoon’ Haiyan

Residents with their belongings ride  to an evacuation center in Tacloban city, central Philippines on December 4th, 2014. Photograph: Reuters

Residents with their belongings ride to an evacuation center in Tacloban city, central Philippines on December 4th, 2014. Photograph: Reuters

 

Tens of thousands of people fled coastal villages and landslide-prone areas in the central Philippines on Friday as typhoon Hagupit neared.

The storm hit eastern coasts of the island nation where thousands were killed in a devastating storm last year.

The coastguard suspended sea travel ahead of the typhoon, leaving more than 2,000 travellers stranded in the capital Manila, the central Bicol region and Mindanao island in the south.

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled some of their flights to central and southern Philippines.

Hagupit was churning slowly across the Pacific on Friday, with the eye of the storm around 435 km (270 miles) southeast of the Philippines, the weather bureau said.

It brought winds of up to 215 kph (130 mph) near its centre.

It is expected to reach into Eastern Samar or Northern Samar provinces in the central Philippines on Saturday afternoon, bringing torrential rain and 4 to 5 metre-high storm surges, the weather bureau said.

AccuWeather Global Weather Center said more than 30 million people would feel the impact of the typhoon across the Philippines.

Tropical Storm Risk downgraded the typhoon to a category 4 on Friday and forecast it would have weakened to category 3 by the time it made landfall.

‘Super Typhoon’

Areas yet to recover from last year’s category 5 “super typhoon” Haiyan, also known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, could be in danger again, the local weather bureau said.

“It’s better to evacuate early... we don’t want to experience what we went through during Yolanda,” said Gigi Calne, a housewife seeking shelter with about 3,000 others at a school in Samar province, in central Philippines.

“It was difficult to save our family and ourselves because we moved too late.”

Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to hit land, left more than 7,000 dead or missing and more than 4 million homeless or with damaged houses when it tore through the central Philippines in November 2013.

Reuters