Many residents fled from a clutch of islands in the central Philippines on Thursday as school houses and other buildings were turned into evacuation centers in preparation for a powerful typhoon predicted to make landfall Saturday.
Some 4.5 million people will be within a 65-kilometer radius of damaging winds if Hagupit—which the U.S. Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center has classified as a supertyphoon—stays on its projected course, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said.
Hagupit—Filipino for lash—is aiming at the midsection of the Philippines, which was clobbered by supertyphoon Haiyan just over a year ago.
Many residents of Tacloban, ground zero of deadly Haiyan, packed into bus stations on Thursday to catch rides to stay with relatives in safer areas, said Jerry Yaokasin, vice mayor of Tacloban city. The city has moved hundreds of people still living in tents because of Haiyan’s destruction to safer shelters. Rescue and road-clearing vehicles were put on standby while Tacloban’s city workers have been ordered to be on 24-hour alert.
“I estimate around 3,000 to 5,000 have already left the city,” Mr. Yaokasin said of a city that is home to around 220,000 people.
Hagupit, which has a diameter of 700 kilometers, is expected make landfall in Eastern Samar—a nearby area also hit hard by Haiyan. The typhoon is expected to exit to the South China Sea late Sunday, according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the local weather bureau.
Hagupit—pronounced Ha-guh-pit—is expected to broadly follow the path of Haiyan, which left more than 6,300 people dead and cost the economy around $12 billion in damages. Hagupit isn’t likely to be as strong as Haiyan, which whipped over 300-kilometer-per-hour winds that stoked 6-meter high storm surges. But it is expected to still be capable of uprooting trees, blowing roofs off houses and whipping up storm surges as well as slow an already decelerating economic growth.