The Philippines closed schools, put soldiers on disaster alert and moved the location of an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting ahead of a super typhoon that may hit areas devastated by Typhoon Haiyan last year.
Typhoon Hagupit was estimated at 1,023 kilometers (636 miles) east of Surigao City on the southern island of Mindanao, with maximum winds of 175 kilometers per hour and gusts of as much as 210 kph, the weather bureau said in a 5 a.m. bulletin. Hagupit, which the Joint Typhoon Warning Center said has become a super typhoon, is expected to bring heavy rain across its 600-kilometer diameter, the bureau said.
Three provinces in the Visayas island region suspended classes, the education department said on its Facebook account. Soldiers are preparing to provide humanitarian assistance, according to Major Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Armed Forces’ 7th civil relations group.
The venue of the APEC senior officials’ Dec. 8-9 meeting was moved to Manila from Albay, a province frequently hit by storms, the government’s Executive Secretary Paquito Ochoa said in a statement yesterday.
The Philippines, battered by an average of 20 cyclones yearly that form over the Pacific Ocean, was among countries hardest hit by extreme weather last year, according to German research group Germanwatch. Haiyan, the strongest storm ever to hit land and the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane, killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines in November last year and left more than a thousand missing.
“If the storm takes the track into the Philippines, the impact will be potentially very severe with widespread flooding, damaging winds, mudslides, storm surges and pounding surf,” meteorologist Anthony Sagliani said on AccuWeather.com.