MANILA (AP) – Villagers fled coastal homes and sparked panic-buying in grocery stores and gas stations in the central Philippines on Thursday as an approaching powerful storm brought back nightmares of last year’s deadly onslaught from Typhoon Haiyan.
Government forecasters said Typhoon Hagupit, which was packing sustained winds of 195 kilometres (122 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 230 kph (143 mph), may hit Eastern Samar province on Saturday and barrel inland along the same route where Haiyan levelled villages and left more than 7,300 dead and missing in November last year.
Haiyan survivor Emily Sagales said many of her still-edgy neighbours in central Tacloban city, which was ravaged by Haiyan, packed their clothes and fled to a sports stadium and safer homes of relatives. Long lines formed at grocery stores and gas stations as residents hoarded basic goods, she said.
“The trauma has returned,” the 23-year-old Sagales said. In the wake of last year’s typhoon, which killed her mother-in-law and destroyed her home, she gave birth to a baby girl in a crowded makeshift clinic filled with the injured and the dying near the Tacloban airport.
“It’s worse now because I didn’t have a baby to worry about last year,” said Sagales.
Haiyan had demolished about one million houses and displaced about four million people in the central Philippines. Hundreds of residents still in tents in Tacloban were prioritised in the ongoing evacuation.