MANILA, Philippines – Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) – now classified as a Category 5 supertyphoon – has triggered a rush of panic buying among residents in the Eastern Visayas area, where the typhoon is forecast to make landfall on Saturday afternoon.
Villagers scrambled to markets, grocery stores, and and gas stations to stock up on food supplies and basic goods, even as they feared that Ruby would be “another Yolanda,” which in November 2013 devastated the same areas in the projected path of the impending supertyphoon.
Local government units have already evacuated scores of villagers of low-lying, coastal areas.
Meanwhile, President Aquino mandated the Department of Trade and Industry to send an increased amount of food supplies to the provinces which are expected to be hardest-hit by Ruby.
The government is likewise mulling the possibility of declaring a state of national calamity, in order to assure that prices of basic commodities will not be raised by those seeking to tajke advantage of the situation.
As of 10 a.m. today, state weather agency PAGASA said that Ruby was estimated at 435 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar, packing maximum winds of 215 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 250 kph.
PAGASA also said that heavy to intense rainfall is expected, and that the storm surge in the areas of Eastern Samar and Northern Samar may measure four to five meters high.
The storm, which has been described as “dangerously erratic” may increase in intensity before it makes landfall.