BBC.com/ Typhoon Hagupit weakens over Philippines

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SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) Typhoon Hagupit has weakened as it continues to slowly sweep across the Philippines, causing some damage.

At least three people have been killed since the storm made landfall on Saturday but it does not appear to have been as severe as many had feared.

Around a million people have taken shelter in evacuation centres.

But correspondents say Hagupit is nowhere near as powerful as Typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of people last year.

In Tacloban, badly hit by Typhoon Haiyan, roofs have been blown away by Hagupit and streets are flooded, but the area has escaped the wider devastation of last year.

“There were no bodies scattered on the road, no big mounds of debris,” Rhea Estuna told the Associated Press by phone from Tacloban. “Thanks to God this typhoon wasn’t as violent.”

At 04:00 on Monday (20:00 GMT on Sunday), the storm was 110km (70 miles) northwest of Masbate City with maximum sustained winds of 120km/h (75mph) near the centre and gusts of up to 150km/h,government forecaster Pagasa said. It was forecast to move northwest at 10km/h.

At its height, as it approached land on Saturday, gusts of up to 250km/h were recorded,

Authorities say they were better prepared than when Haiyan struck in 2013, and organised the largest peacetime evacuation in the history of the Philippines.

Justin Morgan, Oxfam country director for the Philippines, told the BBC that a key factor was a greater focus on the dangers of storm surges and hence the the movement of people away from coastal areas.

Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province, told the BBC no casualties and only “negligible damage” had been reported in his province.

He said the storm had been identified as a threat in late November, giving officials time to identify population at risk, evacuate them two days ahead of the storm and prepare food supplies.

The main cities that have so far been in the path of Typhoon Hagupit look to have avoided major damage. But Northern and Eastern Samar are the big worry now, with many small communities that are isolated.

The Philippines Red Cross says their teams are trying to get into some of these areas, but floods or fallen trees blocking roads mean they are unreachable.

Until rescue teams can get to the isolated communities, we will not know the extent of the damage or the loss of life.

Hagupit is a slow-moving typhoon which means a higher risk of prolonged rain that can cause flooding and mudslides. While we may not be seeing the scenes of mass devastation we saw after Typhoon Haiyan, there is still cause for concern.

Known locally as Typhoon Ruby, Hagupit has nonetheless caused major damage in several towns on the east coast of the Philippines.

The mayor of Dolores, where the storm first made landfall on Saturday, said that 80% of homes there had been destroyed. One resident reportedly died after a tree fell on him.

Two more people – a one-year-old girl and a 65-year-old man – died from hypothermia in the central province of Iloilo, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said.

A total of 183 flights had been cancelled and five airports closed, the agency said, and there were power outages in 16 provinces.

Typhoon Hagupit slow to clear

The typhoon is still travelling westwards across the Philippines.

Residents in areas over which Hagupit was due to pass were warned to expect stormy weather, be on alert for landslides and flashfloods and to expect storm surges in coastal areas.

Financial markets in the Philippines will be closed on Monday, statements from the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Bankers Association of the Philippines said.

Haiyan – known as Yolanda in the Philippines – was the most powerful typhoon ever recorded over land. It tore through the central Philippines in November 2013, leaving more than 7,000 dead or missing.

 

www.shafaqna.com/English

 

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