Typhoon Hagupit with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph on Wednesday afternoon and gustiness up to 184 mph, has been reported approaching the same area in central Philippines battered by Super Typhoon Haiyan Nov. 8 last year.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center of the U.S. Navy forecasts further strengthening of the storm with sustained winds possibly peaking at 185 mph.
As of Wednesday afternoon it was located about 148 nautical miles north-northeast of Koror in Palau.
As priests and parish workers reported over Church-run radio Veritas 846 that some rain had started in the Philippines eastern coastal communities in Samar and Leyte provinces, Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), appealed to government to start evacuation and avoid disaster.
Archbishop Villegas also appealed to Catholic churches and schools to open up to refugees seeking shelter from the storm.
Following is the full text of the CBCP president’s letter on looming typhoon Hagupit.
My brothers and sisters in Christ:
Meteorologists inform us that HAGUPIT is now a super-typhoon and most predict that it will make land-fall over the very same areas hard-hit by Yolanda. The CNN resident meteorologist has just characterized it as the strongest of super-typhoon this year.
Let us all first pray, and the Filipinos far from the danger-zone are asked nevertheless to join the entire nation for those in harm’s way.
I plead with government officials and NGOs to commence evacuation now. To wait any longer may be disastrous. There is no such thing as an excess of caution, especially when faced with a danger so severe.
I appeal to our Catholic churches and schools to open their doors to refugees and those badly in need of shelter, particularly those already displaced by Yolanda. I request only that evacuees remember the sacred character of the churches they occupy, should they do so.
Together with my brother-bishops, I commend the entire nation to the mercy, love and providence of our Father.
Lord, spare our land from this typhoon!
December 4, 2014
+ SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Archbishop of Lingayen Dagupan