Philippines - IOM in the Philippines is racing to prepare for the imminent landfall of Typhoon Hagupit (local name Ruby), a huge storm, which in the worst case scenario could affect up to 32 million people.
Forecasters are moving towards consensus on the direction and force of the typhoon, which weakened slightly overnight, but is still a Category 5 storm and likely to have considerable impact.
Most models show landfall on Samar Island on Saturday afternoon (local time), with direct effects in northern portions of the Visayas, in the Bicol peninsula of Luzon, and along the southern Luzon coast and provinces of the Calabarzon region. It may also affect the capital, Manila, where some forecasters say it could linger for three days.
The storm will not be as ferocious as Typhoon Haiyan, which was responsible for some 6,300 deaths and billions of dollars in damage, when it took a similar path 13 months ago, hitting the neighboring island of Leyte.
The government has been coordinating evacuation and disaster preparedness in all regions that could be affected, prioritizing the evacuation of communities in coastal areas. The main fears are of heavy rainfall, flooding, storm surges and debris flows.
IOM has been supporting the government, in particular the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), during the evacuation activities across the potentially affected area, notably in regions hit by Haiyan, where communities are still vulnerable, with many people still living in tents.
“This is a worrying situation for millions of people,” said Marco Boasso, IOM’s Chief of Mission in the Philippines. “But we are doing all we can to prepare, getting information and emergency shelter materials to the areas most likely to be affected. We are already present on the ground and our staff will be responding from the moment the storm has passed. We have vast experience here, not just from Haiyan, but going back over 30 years.”
IOM teams in Roxas will cover the areas of Panay, Negros and Palawan; teams in Ormoc will cover Cebu, Bohol and South and Western Leyte; teams in Tacloban are focusing on Eastern Leyte and Western Samar; and teams in Guiuan on Eastern Samar. Coordination efforts are taking place in the capital, Manila. In addition, IOM has prepositioned emergency relief goods, including 5,000 hygiene kits, 10,000 tarpaulins and 3,500 repair kits that can be immediately distributed to affected communities.
IOM is working closely with the government to monitor Hagupit’s movements and to ensure that safe evacuation systems are in place to mitigate damage and save lives.
For more information please contact:
IOM’s Regional Office Asia Pacific in Bangkok
Tel. +66.818708081 or from Sunday in Manila Tel. +63.9158125566