Manila Offices, Markets Shut as Storm Risks Heavy Rain – Businessweek
Authorities ordered offices and schools closed in the Philippine capital with tropical storm Hagupit forecast to bring heavy rain as it moves closer to Manila.
The government shut state-run offices while trading of stocks, bonds and currencies was suspended for the day. Gales from Hagupit earlier slammed the central Philippines, with more than 30 power lines and transformers damaged in eastern Visayas and southern Luzon, causing power failures, the grid operator said on its website. Hagupit was downgraded from a typhoon by the Joint Typhoon Warning Center.
At least three people died in evacuation centers in central areas, authorities reported. Roofs were blown off bunkhouses in Tacloban city, Vice Mayor Jerry Yaokasin said by phone. “Our people are worried that this new calamity is going to stall our recovery” from Super Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the area in November last year, he said.
The government has evacuated more than a million people from danger zones as Hagupit — or “whip” in Filipino — tests the leadership of President Benigno Aquino, who attracted criticism after Haiyan killed more than 6,200 people and left more than 1,000 missing. Initial crop damage was estimated to be about 385 million pesos ($8.6 million) in eastern Visayas, where the storm first made landfall.
“Local governments are better prepared” this time, Aquino’s spokeswoman Abigail Valte said on DZRB radio. “It’s better to err on the side of prudence and on the side of caution.”
Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas suspended its clearing, settlement operations today following the order for government offices to close, Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said in a mobile-phone message, while the Philippine Stock Exchange and Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp. halted trading for the day. The benchmark stock exchange index fell 0.9 percent on Dec. 5 as Hagupit, then rated a Super Typhoon, headed to the country.
The Philippines was the country most affected by weather-related events last year, according to Germanwatch’s global climate risk index, citing absolute losses at $24.5 billion, or 3.8 percent of gross domestic product. Haiyan alone caused more than $13 billion in economic damage, it said. U.K. research company Maplecroft ranks the Philippines second to Japan for being at-risk from tropical storms.
With houses destroyed, people are expected to stay longer in evacuation centers and the government must increase its management of the camps and dispersal of food, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said in a televised briefing from Eastern Samar, the first province to be hit by the typhoon.
A one-month old boy and a 62-year-old man died from illnesses in an evacuation center in Leyte province in Visayas, police Superintendent Edgardo Esmero said by phone. In Iloilo, also in Visayas islands, a 1-year-old girl and a 65-year-old man died from hypothermia, according to a civil defense unit report.
“It’s a really serious situation in the evacuation centers,” Jennifer MacCann, World Vision’s operation director for the typhoon response, said by e-mail. “Many of the families don’t know when they can return home and what they will find once they get there.”
Hagupit brought gusts of as much as 75 knots (139 kilometers per hour), according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center, which forecast the storm to track within 72 nautical miles of Manila later today before crossing into the South China Sea and curving southwest toward Vietnam. Its estimated rainfall within its 450-kilometer diameter is from 5 to 15 millimeters per hour, considered moderate to heavy, the country’s weather bureau said.
Sixteen provinces are without electricity, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. Globe Telecom Inc. (GLO) and Smart Communications Inc. networks were down in some parts of Leyte and eastern Samar, it said.
Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled 66 domestic flights today, it said in an e-mailed statement. Airports were shut in Naga and Legazpi in Albay, Tacloban and Calbayog in eastern Visayas, while total flights canceled reached 183. More than 2,200 people were stranded in various ports.
As many as 12.9 million people may be affected by Hagupit, the United Nations’ Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System said on its website.
In Manila, billboards were rolled down and sandbags were placed on the sea wall of Manila Bay, with the capital under the second-lowest alert in a four-scale storm warning system. Heavy to intense rain in the city is possible, according to forecasters.
To contact the reporters on this story: Clarissa Batino in Manila at firstname.lastname@example.org; Cecilia Yap in Manila at email@example.com
To contact the editors responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at firstname.lastname@example.org Greg Ahlstrand