Rescue and relief officials are rushing supplies and food to the north of the Philippines, while thousands of people living in areas prone to landslides and flooding were ordered on 20 October to evacuate to safer areas, as Typhoon Lupit was due to make landfall.
Packing maximum sustained winds of 195km near the centre with gusts of 230km/hour, Lupit's eye was estimated at 820km east-northeast of the province of Cagayan, in the northern island of Luzon.
While it is expected to make landfall only on 22 October, its wide outer rain bands could bring heavy rains and strong winds to northern provinces a day earlier, the state weather bureau said.
The National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) in Manila said nearly 100 tonnes of food and other relief items had been trucked or airlifted to northern provinces where Lupit was expected to hit.
Lupit comes as the country continues to reel from the devastation wrought by twin typhoons that left 858 people dead and entire areas under flood waters for the past three weeks.
The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) has pre-positioned US$200,000 worth of supplies to four locations in Luzon, comprising emergency kits of essential medicines, sleeping mats and purification tablets for about 8,000 families.
It said sleeping mats, blankets, water containers and cooking pots for people in evacuation centres were also sent to La Union, Benguet, Cagayan and Pangasinan - four provinces that were heavily damaged by Typhoon Parma.
Photo: Jason Gutierrez/IRIN
|Children sleep on the cold concrete floor of an evacuation camp in Manila. The country is already reeling from two back-to-back storms|
"We know that many evacuation centres are running low on supplies, and many families exhausted their reserves after Typhoon Pepeng [Parma]," UNICEF country representative Vanessa Tobin said.
Philippine National Red Cross chairman, Senator Richard Gordon, said thousands of people living in vulnerable areas had been told to pack up and leave.
"We're watching the dams. We've already told our people that the moment we ask them to evacuate they must spread the word. As of now, we haven't made that call yet," Gordon told IRIN.
"Everybody near rivers, near creeks, those in low-lying areas, should be moved out once it becomes necessary to do so. People who are debilitated or are differently abled, they too should be moved out," Gordon said, adding that local communities could deputize guards to watch over abandoned homes to prevent looting.
Chief state weather forecaster Prisco Nilo said Lupit was expected to bring 20-25mm of rain an hour, enough to cause flooding and landslides and more than Typhoon Parma had dumped on the north.
"It can cause storm surges, landslides and flooding," Nilo said as he issued a warning for the public to begin evacuating.
The NDCC in Manila said both storms had affected about four million people, of whom 221,000 remain in squalid evacuation camps where relief workers are warning of a disease outbreak.
The UN Resident Coordinator in the Philippines, Jacqui Badcock, said a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team had been sent to the north.
"They are arriving as we speak. They are ready to go out and do an assessment if Lupit hits Luzon, and if it doesn't they will get involved in relief processes," she said.
She said Lupit's arrival could add to the misery of the Philippines, and further strain government's already overstretched resources.
"You can never predict anything with a typhoon," Badcock said.
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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions