World Bulletin/News Desk
Typhoon Hagupit made its way slowly across the central Philippines Sunday, having knocked down power lines, trees and wooden buildings but causing few casualties, local media reported.
The country’s disaster management agency said there had been no deaths early Sunday but Radio DZBB reported a child had died at an evacuation center in Iloilo.
News website Inquirer.net reported a 75-year-old woman drowned in Catarman town, Northern Samar, citing a local disaster risk officer.
However, the typhoon, known locally as Ruby, was not as savage as last year’s Typhoon Yolanda, which left more than 6,300 dead with a further 1,000 still missing.
Early evacuation of low-lying villages and areas prone to landslides, as well as Hagupit’s weakening strength as it reached the Philippines, kept the casualty toll to a minimum.
The typhoon hit Eastern Visayas Saturday night and made second landfall in Masbate Sunday morning. It is expected to head out to the South China Sea late Tuesday, reaching Vietnam by Thursday evening, when it will have slowed considerably.
At 10.00 local time (02.00 GMT) the Philippine weather service recorded sustained winds of 99 miles an hour (160 kilometers an hour) and gusts of up to 121mph (195 kph).
Around 1 million people were evacuated from their homes before Hagupit’s arrival. The storm brought down power lines and trees, demolished flimsy wooden buildings and the temporary shelters still in use more than a year after Yolanda, caused flooding that made roads impassable and led to the cancellation of hundreds of flights and inter-island ferries.
Mary Jane Atsagi, 54, was evacuated to a school in Legazpi City on the east coast with her two grandchildren. She told the Rappler news website: “The local government said we should move out so we did. We want our children to be safe.”
The carnage caused by Yolanda, which hit a largely unprepared population and left 4 million homeless, led to the government to order early evacuations.
Food supplies were sent to affected areas and troops and police deployed to prevent looting in the typhoon’s aftermath.
The Communist Party of the Philippines mobilized its armed wing to help residents.
“It's better to evacuate early… We don't want to experience what we went through during Yolanda," Gigi Calne, one of 3,000 sheltering at a school in Basey, Samar province, told the GMA News website. "It was difficult to save our family and ourselves because we moved too late."
Hagupit, which means whiplash in the local Tagalog language, is the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year. The archipelago sits in a typhoon belt at the edge of the Pacific Ocean and is the world’s most cyclone-hit nation.
Typhoons and tropical storms are types of cyclones classified by wind speed. Typhoons have a sustained wind speed of 74 mph (119 kph) or greater while tropical storms rotate at 39 to 73 mph (63 to 118 kph).
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