More than 600,000 people have been evacuated from the coastal areas of the Philippines as Typhoon Hagupit, the strongest storm of the year, moves toward the coast, according to media reports. The storm is expected to make landfall Saturday evening or Sunday morning, local time, in Eastern Samar province, weather bureau PAGASA said.
The typhoon is approaching the country's eastern coasts, with the eye of the storm nearly 143 miles east northeast of Borongan, PAGASA said. The storm is reportedly moving with winds of 121 miles per hour (mph) and wind gusts of up to 133 mph. All flights to and from the Philippines have been canceled Saturday, while the typhoon also forced airports in Calbayog, Legazpi and Naga to close. PAGASA also reportedly said that Typhoon Hagupit, also known as Typhoon Ruby, could make landfall at least five times between Sunday and Monday.
"The threat of flash floods and landslides are likely in hazard-prone areas, especially along river banks and mountain slopes of the affected areas. Residents are advised to take necessary precautions," Weather Philippines reported Saturday. "Residents and visitors along Southern Luzon, Visayas and Northeastern Mindanao should closely monitor the development of Hagupit (Ruby)."
Officials reportedly said that at least 47 of the country’s 81 provinces are considered potentially at a high risk of devastation from Hagupit.
Meteorologists reportedly said that the new storm has the capability of causing massive damage in the island nation, which is still recovering from typhoon Haiyan that left more than 7,300 people dead.
Tens of thousands of families are still living in shelter homes and tents following last year’s storm.
“A damage assessment of designated evacuation centers in typhoon-affected areas indicated that in some places – such as Eastern Samar, where Hagupit is headed – less than 10% ... were likely to withstand future typhoons,” the U.S. advocacy group Refugees International, said in a statement, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Moreover, while the hope is that large-scale evacuations will help save lives, there’s little doubt that Hagupit will bring a great deal of fear and suffering to thousands of Filipinos who already lost everything to Haiyan.”
— WeatherPhilippines (@WeatherPH) December 6, 2014