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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Typhoon Hagupit sweeps across Philippines


Typhoon Hagupit is sweeping across the Philippines, toppling trees and power lines and threatening areas with heavy rain, flooding and mudslides.

About a million people have fled their homes for shelter. The storm has killed at least three people, officials say.

In Tacloban, where thousands were killed by typhoon Haiyan last year, roofs have been blown away and streets are flooded.

But Hagupit does not appear to have been as severe as many had feared.

Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, weakened on Sunday as it continued to move slowly across the Philippines.

It was packing maximum sustained winds of 140km/h (90mph) and gusts of 170km/h (105 mph) at 17:00 local time (0900 GMT), government forecaster Pagasa said.

The BBC’s Jonathan Head in Legazpi, about 200km (125 miles) north of Tacloban, said Hagupit was clearly a powerful storm but nowhere near as powerful as Haiyan.

The authorities believed they were well prepared this time, he adds, but it could be some time before the extent of damage in more remote areas becomes clear.

Correspondents say the Philippines has undergone its largest peacetime evacuation in history.

Typhoon Hagupit slow to clear

Homes destroyed

Officials say at least three people have been killed by Hagupit. One person was killed by a falling tree in the eastern town of Dolores.

Another two people in the central province of Iloilo reportedly died from hypothermia.

“The devastation in homes is huge because of the strong winds,” Philippine Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told local radio DzBB.

“Many people voluntarily returned to evacuate centres tonight… because they do not have homes anymore.”

Damage on the seafront in Tacloban (7 Dec 2014)The BBC’s Maria Byrne in Tacloban sent this image of people beginning to clear up along the seafront on Sunday morning

The government has warned residents in low-lying and mountainous areas to be alert to possible flash floods and landslides, while those on the coast were warned of the risk of big waves associated with storm surges.

Soldiers have been deployed to major roads along the typhoon’s path, to clear debris from roads and prevent looting.

Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province where Legazpi is situated, told the BBC that the main lesson from Typhoon Haiyan had been to prepare well and to evacuate people from vulnerable areas.

“It doesn’t happen overnight so you need to train people. I feel confident we can achieve our zero casualty goal,” he said.

Waves batter coast at Legazpi. 7 Dec 2014High winds sent waves crashing into the coast at Legazpi
Policeman moves a fallen tree in Legazi (7 Dec 2014)Though trees were brought down in Legazpi the city appeared to have escaped extensive damage
Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province. 7 Dec 2014Joey Salceda, governor of Albay province, says widespread evacuation has been vital

At the scene: Saira Asher, BBC News, Legazpi

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.


The typhoon first made landfall in the Philippines on Saturday.

It is expected to cross Sibuyan island in the early hours of Monday. According to forecaster Pagasa, it is expected to leave Philippine territory on Thursday morning.

Man climbs over fallen building in  Borongan city, Samar island (7 Dec 2014)In Borongan city, north-east of Tacloban, buildings were brought down by the strong winds

Maulid Warfa, the head of Unicef’s field office in Tacloban, said their five-storey concrete building was shaking under the force of the storm.

Speaking early on Sunday he said: “We’re in this dark building and it’s raining heavily and there’s no electricity and we are using candles.

“We have a generator… but because of the rain and the flood and power problems we have switched it off. It’s too dangerous.”

Mr Warfa added: “Our concern now is not us sitting in this building. Our concern is for the little children who have had to go through this experience for the second time in 13 months.”

About 19,000 people from coastal villages are in 26 evacuation centres, Tacloban’s disaster office spokesman Ilderando Bernadas told Reuters.

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.


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