Typhoon Hagupit: Greenpeace warning as a million people flee 106mph gales – and there's more to come

Greenpeace campaigners claim ‘The people of the Philippines cannot just accept this is going to be the new normal in our lives’

Loulla-Mae Eleftheriou-Smith
Sunday 07 December 2014 11:54
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The Philippines remains braced for further possible devastation from Typhoon Hagupit after the storm left three people dead, knocked out power in entire coastal provinces, mowed down trees and sent more than 900,000 people fleeing for their lives.

The typhoon, which hit land with winds of 87mph and gusts of 106mph, caused shallow floods, damaged shanties and ripped tin roofs off buildings, but there were no confirmed deaths or major destruction reported from the affected areas.

Hagupit was found to be weaker than forecast when it slammed into Eastern Samar and other island provinces, but while its peak power was lower than expected, it has still proved to be a deadly storm.

Two people, including a baby girl, died of hypothermia in central Iloilo province on Saturday at the height of the Typhoon. Another person died after being hit by a falling tree in the eastern town of Dolores, according to Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

The typhoon is now moving slowly, which more rainfall in the Central Philippines and a risk of landslides and flash floods, while the strong storm is still on course to barrel across three major central islands before starting to blow away on Tuesday.

Traumatised by the destruction of supertyhpoon Haiyan last year that killed more than 7,000 people and displaced millions, this year the Philippine government launched massive preparations to attain a zero-casualty target.

Over 900,000 people fled to around 1,000 emergency shelters to keep safe from the storm, while army troops have been deployed to supermarkets and major roads in provinces to clear debris and prevent looting and chaos, all of which helped to slow down the government’s response to those effected by last year’s devastating supertyphoon.

Local media reports focused on the positive story of a 23-year-old woman who safely gave birth in an evacuation centre, the Guardian reports. Marilyn Ramonolos had a midwife with her as she went in to labour, who was able to successfully deliver the baby with guidance over the phone from a doctor in Manila.

While the government has learned from last year and taken major steps to ensure people’s safety under Hagupit, Greenpeace campaigners claim the typhoons are a result of climate change, and that the Philippines should not have to “accept” this destruction will happen regularly.

“The people of the Philippines cannot just accept this is going to be the new normal in our lives,” Anna Abad, Greenpeace’s climate justice campaigner for the Philippines, told The Independent.

Greenpeace has launched a campaign to make “Big Polluters Pay”. The campaign claims that “Communities like those affected by Haiyan are footing the bill for their destruction while Big Polluters continue to rake in billions of profits by selling their climate-killing coal, oil and gas”.

Greenpeace is calling for people to “stand with the Philippines” as it prepares to confront negotiators gathered at the Conference of Parties in Lima, Peru, which is currently discussing a global agreement on climate change.

“These typhoons are getting stronger and affecting more people,” Ms Abad said, “while those responsible for climate change – the coal, oil and gas companies – continue to contribute to the climate crisis.”

While the Philippines have learned to “adapt” to the effects of climate change, the coal, oil and gas companies need to “provide these countries with a low carbon pathway,” she added.

Greenpeace campaigners are planning on traveling to the areas affected by Hagupit as soon as it is safe to do so and “send a message of devastation” to the Conference of Parties and “tell them the people of the Philippines should not experience this,” Ms Abad said.

Additional reporting by AP

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