Tacloban hit by panic buying

Tacloban hit by panic buying
Residents crowd the entrance of a grocery store in Tacloban City, central Philippines on December 3, 2014, ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Hagupit.

TACLOBAN, Philippines - Terrified survivors of a super typhoon that killed thousands in the Philippines last year were yesterday preparing for a powerful new storm, as the authorities scrambled to find safe evacuation centres.

Typhoon Hagupit was building strength in the Pacific Ocean as it moved towards central Philippine islands, where impoverished farming and fishing communities have yet to recover from the previous devastation.

In Tacloban, one of the cities worst hit by Super Typhoon Haiyan 13 months ago, residents cleared shop shelves of canned food, candles, nappies and other essentials, well ahead of Hagupit's forecast landfall on Saturday.

"It's not raining yet, but people are panic buying after hearing about the typhoon warnings on television and radio," Ms Helen Buena, a clerk at a small supermarket in Tacloban, told AFP. "They're taking goods by the dozen, two dozen."

Hundreds of thousands of people still live in vulnerable coastal areas in Tacloban and other areas that were affected by Haiyan, which killed or left more than 7,350 people missing.

"Our problem is, we don't have enough evacuation centres," Tacloban vice-mayor Jerry Yaokasin told AFP.

NOT REBUILT YET

He said some of the schools that were usually used as evacuation centres had been destroyed by Haiyan and had not yet been rebuilt, while others were too close to the coast.

Haiyan, the strongest typhoon ever recorded on land, with winds of over 315kmh an hour, tore across a corridor of the central Philippines. The region is home to some of the nation's poorest.

Mr Yaokasin said a top priority as Hagupit approached was helping about 17,500 Haiyan survivors still living in tents or temporary shelters along coastal areas of Tacloban.

He said authorities were trying to identify new evacuation centres for them, far from the coast. But the government has said that about one million people live in unsafe housing across the areas hit by Haiyan and that building new homes for them will take years.


This article was first published on December 4, 2014.
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