One million flee Philippines typhoon

2014-12-06 21:07
 Filipino families seek refuge at a school used as an evacuation centre as they prepare for Typhoon Hagupit in Legazpi. (Aaron Favila, AP)

Filipino families seek refuge at a school used as an evacuation centre as they prepare for Typhoon Hagupit in Legazpi. (Aaron Favila, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Manila - A powerful typhoon roared into the eastern Philippines on Saturday, bringing lashing rain and strong winds that felled trees, ripped off tin roofs and toppled power lines in areas still bearing the scars of a super typhoon 13 months ago.

About 1 million people had already fled to shelters by the time Typhoon Hagupit made landfall, in what a UN agency said was one of the world's biggest peacetime evacuations.

As the storm barrelled in from the Pacific, power was cut across most of the central island of Samar and nearby Leyte province, including Tacloban City, considered ground zero of the devastating super typhoon Haiyan last year.

"The wind is blowing so strongly, it's like it is whirling," Mabel Evardone, an official of the coastal town of Sulat in Eastern Samar, said on local radio. "The waters have risen now."

There was no word of any casualties.

Hagupit had weakened to a category 3 storm, two notches below "super typhoon", but could still unleash huge destruction with torrential rain and potentially disastrous storm surges of up to 4.5 metres, the weather bureau PAGASA said.

The eye of the typhoon hit the town of Dolores, Eastern Samar at 21:15 (13:15 GMT), PAGASA said, adding the storm maintained its strength, with winds of up to 175km/h near the centre and gusts of up to 210km/h).

"We can expect that heavy rains were dumped on Eastern Samar because Ruby hovered for a long time over the coastal areas," weather forecaster Jori Loiz said on radio, referring to the local name of typhoon Hagupit.

The weather bureau said Hagupit - which means "lash" in Filipino - maintained its projected path towards Masbate, Romblon and Oriental Mindoro provinces, slightly north of areas devastated by super typhoon Haiyan last year.

PAGASA earlier said the storm was moving north northwest at 16km/h.

100 flights grounded

"Ruby's lashing will be severe," Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told government radio. "Let's be alert. Let's evacuate to prevent any harm to your families."

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled about 100 flights to central and southern Philippines on Saturday.

Residents of low-lying villages and landslide-prone areas have fled to schools, civic centres, town halls, gyms and churches, the national disaster agency said.

"We received reports about a million people evacuating already. There is increased awareness to make early action and co-operate and do pre-emptive evacuation," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said in a television interview.

At least 50 municipalities in the central Philippines and the southern part of the country's main Luzon island were at risk of storm surges, the Science and Technology department said.

The typhoon was unlikely to hit the capital Manila, home to around 12 million people, the agency said.

"Typhoon Hagupit is triggering one of the largest evacuations we have ever seen in peacetime," said Denis McClean, spokesperson of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

Relief agency Refugees International said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" that evacuation centres may not be safe.

"A damage assessment of designated evacuation centres in typhoon-affected areas indicated that in some places - such as Eastern Samar, where Hagupit is headed - less than 10% of evacuation centres were likely to withstand future typhoons," the group said.

Lessons learned

The United States had offered to send nine C-130 transport aircraft, three P-3C Orion, and medical and relief workers, said Major Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Armed Forces' 7th civil relations group.

Other foreign governments also sent word they were ready to help the disaster-prone Southeast Asian nation, he said.

The islands of Samar and Leyte were worst-hit by 250km/h winds and storm surges brought by Typhoon Haiyan in November.

"There has been a tremendous amount of learning from last year," said Greg Matthews, emergency response advisor at the International Rescue Committee. "There have been reports from our field officers and partners that people are evacuating themselves. They are aware of the situation."

Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall, left more than 7 000 dead or missing and more than 4 million homeless or with damaged houses. About 25 000 people in Eastern Samar and Leyte still live in tents, shelters and bunkhouses.

International humanitarian agencies and non-government groups, which have been supporting Haiyan-devastated communities in the central Philippines, are preparing to mobilize aid and relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit.

Soldiers were deployed to urban centres, particularly in Tacloban City, where widespread looting broke out after Haiyan.

"The soldiers will help our police counterparts in maintaining peace and order, and prevent looting incidents," said Colonel Restituto Padilla Jr, armed forces spokesperson.

Read more on:    philippines  |  weather

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.
NEXT ON NEWS24X publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.