Written by Bella Dalima
06 Dec, 2014 | 4:34 pm
More than half a million people in the Philippines have fled from a powerful typhoon in one of the world’s biggest peacetime evacuations, as the storm threatens to wreak more destruction on areas still bearing the scars of a super typhoon 13 months ago.
Residents of Samar island said they were experiencing strong winds, heavy rain and blackouts on Saturday as Typhoon Hagupit churned towards eastern provinces of the archipelago.
The storm had weakened to category 3, 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 (15 ft).
With winds of up to 175 kph (110 mph) near the centre and gusts of up to 220 kph (137 mph), the storm was moving slowly at 13 kph (8 mph), the weather bureau PAGASA said, and was expected to hit Eastern Samar province between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. (1200-1400 GMT).
“The wind feels like there’s a huge electric fan blowing air from the Pacific,” said Roxas, speaking from Eastern Samar.
Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled about 100 flights to central and southern Philippines on Saturday.
More than 616,000 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.
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, with the eye of the storm set to cross five provinces, the Science and Technology department said.
The typhoon was unlikely to hit the capital Manila, home to around 12 million people, the agency said.
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