By Girlie Linao
MANILA (DPA) — A powerful cyclone has intensified as it heads towards the Philippines, threatening the same areas devastated by super typhoon Haiyan last year, the weather bureau said Thursday.
Typhoon Hagupit was packing maximum winds of 195 kilometres per hour (kph) and gusts of up to 230 kph as it moved closer to the country's east coast at a speed of 20 kph, the bureau said.
The 18th cyclone to hit the Philippines this year was expected to make landfall in the Eastern Visayas region on Saturday and sweep through the central provinces before exiting on Monday.
The areas being threatened by Hagupit are the same communities still recovering from the destruction caused by Haiyan, which triggered storm surges as high as 10 metres in some areas when it hit on November 8, 2013.
Hagupit, which has a diameter of 700 kilometres, would affect more than 40 provinces in the Philippines and could trigger storm surges of up to 4 metres, weather forecasters said.
Local authorities have started to move residents in coastal communities in the storm's expected path, according to Alexander Pama, head of the national disaster risk management agency.
Haiyan killed at least 6,300 people, with more than 1,000 still missing. More than 4 million were also displaced mostly in the worst-hit provinces of Leyte and Samar, 570 kilometres south-west of Manila.