Thousands evacuate as Philippines braces for typhoon Hagupit
Updated: 2014-12-05 17:26
Shops that are closed due to super-typhoon Hagupit are pictured in downtown Tacloban City, central Philippines December 5, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
MANILA - Tens of thousands of people fled coastal villages and landslide-prone areas in the central Philippines on Friday, as typhoon Hagupit bore down on eastern coasts of the island nation where thousands were killed in a devastating storm last year.
Ports were shut across the archipelago, leaving more than 2,000 travellers stranded in the capital Manila, the central Bicol region and Mindanao island in the south, after the coastguard suspended sea travel ahead of the typhoon.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled some of their flights to central and southern Philippines.
Areas yet to recover from last year's category 5 "super typhoon" Haiyan, also known in the Philippines as Typhoon Yolanda, could be in the firing line 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 Basey, 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 make landfall, 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.
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, packing winds of up to 215 kph (130 mph) near the centre with gusts of up to 250 kph.
It was expected to slam 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.