Satellite view of Typhoon Hagupit hitting the Philippines on 6 December 2014. Photo: NASA / AFP

6 December 2014 (AFP) – Typhoon Hagupit tore apart homes and sent waves crashing through coastal communities across the eastern Philippines on Sunday, creating more misery for millions following a barrage of deadly disasters.

The typhoon roared in from the Pacific Ocean and crashed into remote fishing communities of Samar island on Saturday night with wind gusts of 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour, local weather agency Pagasa said.

The wind strength made Hagupit the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines this year, exceeding a typhoon in July that killed more than 100 people.

Tin roofs are flying off, trees are falling and there is some flooding," Stephany Uy-Tan, the mayor of Catbalogan, a major city on Samar, told AFP by phone minutes after Hagupit made landfall.

Fearful of a repeat of last year when Super Typhoon Haiyan claimed more than 7,350 lives, the government undertook a massive evacuation effort ahead of Hagupit that saw millions of people seek shelter.

Hagupit was forecast to take three days to cut across the Philippines, passing over mostly poor central regions, while also bringing heavy rain to the densely populated capital of Manila slightly to the north.

The government warned of storm surges up to five metres (16-feet) high in some areas, flash flooding, landslides and winds strong enough to tear apart even sturdy homes.

Tens of millions of people live in the typhoon's path, including those in the central Philippines who are still struggling to recover from the devastation of Haiyan, which hit 13 months ago.

Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded on land, with winds of 315 kilometres an hour, and generated tsunami-like storm surges that laid to waste entire towns.

As day broke on Sunday, many areas across the eastern Philippines were uncontactable and it was impossible to know how badly they were damaged, Red Cross secretary general Gwendolyn Pang told AFP.

In those that were reachable, residents and officials reported terrifying winds and waves that destroyed homes, although with most people in evacuation centres there were hopes casualties would be few.

In Tacloban, one of the cities worst-hit by Haiyan, palm-thatch temporary houses built by aid agencies for survivors of last year's typhoon had been torn aport, vice mayor Jerry Yaokasin told AFP. [more]

Typhoon tears down homes in disaster-weary Philippines

By Rosemarie Francisco
6 December 2014

MANILA (Reuters) – A powerful typhoon roared into the eastern Philippines on Saturday, bringing lashing rain and strong winds that felled trees, ripped off tin roofs and toppled power lines in areas still bearing the scars of a super typhoon 13 months ago.

About 1 million people had already fled to shelters by the time Typhoon Hagupit made landfall, in what a U.N. agency said was one of the world's biggest peacetime evacuations.

As the storm barrelled in from the Pacific, power was cut across most of the central island of Samar and nearby Leyte province, including Tacloban City, considered ground zero of the devastating super typhoon Haiyan last year.

"The wind is blowing so strongly, it's like it is whirling," Mabel Evardone, an official of the coastal town of Sulat in Eastern Samar, said on local radio. "The waters have risen now."

There was no word of any casualties. […]

"We received reports about a million people evacuating already. There is increased awareness to make early action and co-operate and do pre-emptive evacuation," Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, said in a television interview.

At least 50 municipalities in the central Philippines and the southern part of the country's main Luzon island were at risk of storm surges, the Science and Technology department said.

The typhoon was unlikely to hit the capital Manila, home to around 12 million people, the agency said.

"Typhoon Hagupit is triggering one of the largest evacuations we have ever seen in peacetime," said Denis McClean, spokesman of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction in Geneva.

Relief agency Refugees International said in a statement it was "deeply concerned" that evacuation centres may not be safe.

"A damage assessment of designated evacuation centres in typhoon-affected areas indicated that in some places – such as Eastern Samar, where Hagupit is headed – less than 10 percent of evacuation centres were likely to withstand future typhoons," the group said. [more]

Typhoon slams into Philippines, one million evacuated

LEGAZPI, Philippines, 6 December 2014 (AP) – Typhoon Hagupit slammed into the central Philippines' east coast late Saturday, knocking out power and toppling trees in a region where 650,000 people have fled to safety, still haunted by the massive death and destruction wrought by a monster storm last year.

Packing maximum sustained winds of 109 miles per hour and gusts of 130 mph, Hagupit made landfall in Dolores, a coastal town facing the Pacific in Eastern Samar province, according to the Philippines' weather agency. There were no immediate reports of casualties.

Although it was unlikely to reach the unprecedented strength of Typhoon Haiyan, Hagupit's strong winds and heavy rain were enough to possibly cause major damage to an impoverished region still reeling from the devastating November 2013 storm, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

"There are many trees that have toppled, some of them on the highway," police Senior Inspector Alex Robin said by phone late Saturday from Dolores, hours before Hagupit made landfall. "We are totally in the dark here. The only light comes from flashlights."

From Eastern Samar, Hagupit - Filipino for "smash" or "lash" - was expected to hammer parts of a string of island provinces that was devastated by Haiyan's tsunami-like storm surges and ferocious winds. Hagupit weakened slightly on Saturday, but remained dangerously powerful and erratic.

Robin said about 600 families had hunkered down in Dolores' three-story municipal hall, one of many emergency shelters in the town.

"Everyone here is just looking for a place to sleep," he said. "All the windows are closed, but it is still cool because of the wind and the rain."

Eastern Samar province Rep. Ben Evardone said electricity also was knocked out early Saturday in Borongan city, about 43 miles south of Dolores, where the government has set up a command center for rescue and relief operations headed by Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

Evardone said the strong winds also felled trees and ripped off roofing sheets. "You can hear the whistling of the wind," he said.

"Everybody is in fear because of what happened during (Haiyan)," Evardone said. "We can already feel the wrath of the typhoon. Everybody is praying." [more]

Powerful typhoon slams into eastern Philippines



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