Panic buying as 200kph Typhoon Hagupit heads towards the Philippines

Panic-buying of food broke out in the central Philippines on Thursday and schools and government offices were shut, as provinces yet to recover from last year’s devastating super-typhoon Haiyan braced themselves for another category 5 storm. The government said it was considering declaring a state of national calamity to freeze prices of basic goods and President Benigno Aquino ordered the trade department to send more food supplies to provinces at risk from typhoon Hagupit. The move followed reports of stores shutting days ahead of the typhoon in order to raise prices of goods later.

All radios and televisions are open, cell phones are being charged. People are buying food stuff, preparing fuel and gasoline supply.

Roger Mercado, governor of Southern Leyte province

"Many stores have closed in Tacloban," said Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla, referring to the capital of Leyte province in the central Philippines, where he hails from. "I think everybody is panicking at this point." Typhoon Hagupit was churning across the Pacific around 720 km southeast of the island nation on Thursday, packing winds of up to 205 kph near the centre. The storm could take the same track as Haiyan, which left more than 7,000 dead or missing and more than 4 million homeless or with damaged houses when it battered the central Philippines in November 2013.