MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte will hold a command conference with government’s top disaster preparedness and management agencies on Thursday to ensure that the country will be at its highest level of readiness for typhoon “Ompong,” Malacañang said.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said P1.7 billion in food packs and relief assistance have been readied for distribution to those who will be affected by the onslaught of the typhoon, the strongest to hit the archipelago this year so far.
Ompong is forecast to slam into Cagayan province in the northeast Saturday morning and is expected to bring heavy rains within its 900-kilometer diameter.
Senator Richard Gordon, chair of the Philippine Red Cross, said some 10 million individuals could be affected by the typhoon which could trigger floods, storm surges and landslides.
Ompong continues to pack maximum sustained winds of 205 kilometers near the center with gusts of up to 255 kph, but it "slightly slowed down" and is moving at 20 kph, state weather bureau PAGASA said in its 11 a.m. weather bulletin.
Roque said the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) is making sure that land, air and sea assets are on standby to respond to calls for rescue and request for supplies in affected areas.
A quick response team has also been deployed to Batanes, the Philippines’ northernmost province which is on the path of the typhoon.
Meanwhile, Roque also urged farmers to harvest crops ahead of the typhoon’s arrival.
An average of 20 typhoons and storms lash the Philippines each year, killing hundreds of people and leaving millions in poverty.
The country's deadliest on record is Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan), which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing across the central Philippines in November 2013.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said it expects "substantial damage" on the Philippine path of Ompong.
Storm surges of up to seven meters are expected to hit coastal areas, it said, while heavy rains could trigger landslides and flash floods.
The OCD also said towns and cities on Ompong's path are preparing government buildings as evacuation centers, stockpiling food and other emergency rations, and preparing rescue teams and equipment.
Ompong is predicted to reach China's southern coast around Sunday, according to the Hong Kong Observatory. - with Agence France-Presse