Philippine storm weakens after leaving 21 dead

World Today

Typhoon Hagupit weakened into a tropical storm Monday after leaving at least 21 people dead and forcing more than a million into shelters, while sparing most of a central Philippine region still reeling from last year’s monster Typhoon Haiyan.

Hagupit made landfall shortly before nightfall in the resort town of San Juan in Batangas province, about 60 miles south of Manila, the capital, with maximum sustained winds of 53 miles per hour and gusts of 62 mph. But a few hours later, Manila still was experiencing only slight winds and light rain.

Powerful storm sweeps across Philippines, kills 3

Powerful storm sweeps across Philippines, kills 3

At least three deaths were attributed to Typhoon Hagupit. It also brought flooding, landslides and destruction to property and infrastructure, and more than 900,000 have fled to safety in shelters. The storm was weakening, but as CCTV America's Barnaby Lo reported, it's not done with the Philippines yet.

Forecasters, however, said Hagupit could still generate storm surges that could overwhelm coastal villages. In the capital, police officers were asking people to stay away from a promenade beside Manila Bay for safety reasons.

More than 2,800 villagers moved to emergency shelters in San Juan, a low-lying and flood-prone town popular for its beach resorts, including 220 people huddled inside a gymnasium as torrential rains pounded.

Google Crisis Map for Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines
Zoom in to see shelters and crisis centers 

While officials expressed relief that the typhoon had not caused major damage in Tacloban and other central cities that were devastated by Haiyan, they warned that it was still barreling across the southern tip of the main northern island of Luzon, where Manila is located. The storm was expected to blow away Tuesday into the South China Sea.

Hagupit, which first made landfall in Eastern Samar late Saturday, was moving slowly at 6 mph and could dump heavy rain that could possibly trigger landslides and flash floods, according to forecasters.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said more than 5,000 residents of a shantytown on the edge of Manila Bay have been evacuated due to possible storm surges. Sandbags were stacked along a portion of a seawall to prevent possible storm surges in Manila Bay from spilling into a scenic boulevard and a tourist belt of restaurants and hotels.

“We’ve prepared and trained for this,” Estrada told The Associated Press, adding that his greatest fear was widespread flooding. Metropolitan Manila has a population of more than 12 million people.

Like villagers in the central Philippines, Estrada said Manila residents were readily moving to safety because of haunting memories of Haiyan.

The strongest typhoon on record to hit land, Haiyan’s tsunami-like storm surges leveled entire villages and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in November last year.

Hagupit left at least 21 people dead, including 16 villagers who drowned in Eastern Samar province, where the typhoon made its first landfall, according to the Philippine Red Cross. The government disaster-response agency has reported only five other deaths, including three people who died of hypothermia, saying it was still verifying other reported casualties.

This story is compiled with information from the Associated Press.