World

Philippines braces for Typhoon Hagupit after Haiyan storm

Villagers fled their coastal homes and sparked panic-buying in grocery stores and gas stations in a central Philippine region Thursday as an approaching powerful storm brought back nightmares of last year's deadly onslaught from Typhoon Haiyan.

Typhoon Hagupit may hit Eastern Samar province by Saturday

Philippines readies for Typhoon Hagupit

8 years ago
Duration 1:09
Residents stock up on supplies as massive storm bears down on region

Villagers fled their coastal homes and sparked panic-buying in grocery stores and gas stations in a central Philippine region Thursday as an approaching powerful storm brought back nightmares of last year's deadly onslaught from Typhoon Haiyan.

Government forecasters said Typhoon Hagupit, which was packing sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 230 km/h, may hit Eastern Samar province on Saturday and barrel inland along the same route where Haiyan levelled villages and left more than 7,300 dead and missing in November last year.

Haiyan survivor Emily Sagales said many of her still-edgy neighbours in central Tacloban city, which was worst hit by Haiyan, have packed their clothes and fled to a sports stadium and safer homes of relatives. Long lines have formed at grocery stores and gas stations as residents hoarded basic goods, she said.

Residents with their belongings wait for a government vehicle to bring them to the evacuation centre in Tacloban city, central Philippines, as provinces yet to recover from last year's devastating super-typhoon Haiyan braced for another category 5 storm, typhoon Hagupit. (Reuters)

Sagales, who gave birth to a baby girl in a crowded makeshift clinic filled with the injured and the dying near the Tacloban airport in the aftermath of last year's typhoon, said the approaching storm had triggered bad memories.

"The trauma has returned," the 23-year-old Sagales said, adding she packed her clothes Thursday after officials in her village alerted everyone that they might have move. "It's worse now because I didn't have a baby to worry about last year and I had not experienced how it was to be right in the middle of a big typhoon."

President Aquino warns villagers in nationally televised speech

Hotels in Tacloban reported that they were running out of rooms as wealthier families booked ahead for the weekend.

"The sun is still shining but people are obviously scared. Almost all of our rooms have been booked," said Roan Florendo of the Leyte Park hotel, which lies near San Pedro bay in Tacloban city but sits safely atop a hill.

Workers fold a billboard sign in anticipation of strong winds brought by Typhoon Hagupit, locally named Ruby, on a coastal road in Cavite City, south of Manila on Thursday. (Romeo Ranoco/Reuters)

In Manila, President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday led an emergency meeting of disaster-response agencies and ordered steps to prevent panic-buying and hoarding of goods.

He checked on how many Philippine air force C-130 cargo planes were available for possible emergency flights, inquired about the readiness of hospitals and what police plan to do to maintain law and order and prevent the looting that erupted in Tacloban in the initial hours after Haiyan swamped the city last year.

The approaching typhoon "presents a challenge but, I think, we've been challenged worse by Yolanda," Aquino told officials, referring to Haiyan's local name.

"I'd like everybody to become a busybody," Aquino said during the nationally televising meeting. While warning villagers about the danger, he urged officials to avoid causing unnecessary alarm.

As the meeting progressed, Aquino was told that the typhoon has further strengthened.

Some towns in Hagupit's predicted path said schools will be shut on Friday. Officials also decided to move the venue of a meeting next week of the Asia-Pacific Economic forum, which was to be attended by hundreds of diplomats from 21 member economies, from Albay province, which could be lashed by the typhoon, to the capital Manila, which forecasters say will likely be spared.

Super Typhoon Hagupit, also called Ruby, is captured in this close-up shot by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership weather satellite. (NOAA/NASA)

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