Schools have been closed and mass evacuations are on the way in areas prone to landslide and flooding along the central-eastern coast of the Philippines, ahead of Supertyphoon Haiyan’s expected landfall on Friday.
Haiyan, known under the name Yolanda in the Philippines, is likely the most powerful storm to form on earth this year, with possible sustained winds of up to 290 km/h. On Thursday morning, the typhoon was still intensifying, although Philippine officials predict it will reach landfall with wind speeds of around 200 km/h.
Around 5,000 people who have been residing in tent shelters since a deadly earthquake struck the country three weeks ago have been told to take refuge in concrete buildings. Food packs have been readied for distribution, and urgent efforts are being made to clear debris left by the quake that is now blocking canals and drains.
The army and the Philippine National Police are on full alert in order to respond to emergency situations. Public officials and social-media users are spreading hopes that the country will be spared widespread damage.
Haiyan has been compared to the 2012 Supertyphoon Bopha, which made landfall with winds of 280 km/h and claimed more than 600 lives.