Typhoon Hagupit slams into Philippines

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Manila, Dec 7: The massive Typhoon Hagupit slammed into Philippines Saturday and brought with it heavy rains and powerful winds.

Typhoon Hagupit, whose name means "lash" in Filipino, came ashore on the Eastern Samar Island with winds of 205 kph -- the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane, CNN reported.

Storm

Storm surges of up to 15 feet and heavy rain from the slow-moving storm were some of the main concerns as the storm headed west-northwest.

Hagupit is expected to make a second landfall, hitting the island of Masbate Sunday.

About 40 million people are believed to be in the path of the storm.

Though the storm will weaken as it moves over the land, it is expected to remain a typhoon before it moves out to the sea Tuesday.

Hagupit is moving slowly, at 15 kph. At that rate it will take about three days for the storm to travel past the capital, Manila, dumping extreme amounts of rainfall -- more than a foot in some places -- as it goes.

That will lead to flash flooding and mudslides, even in places far away from the centre of the storm.

The storm should be significantly weaker by the time it reaches Manila Monday evening, but winds would still be higher than 100 kph. The biggest threat in the capital would come from heavy rainfall, which might lead to urban flash flooding.

Perhaps most at risk Sunday was the city of Legazpi, just north of where Hagupit made landfall. The city faces a possible storm surge of 2-4 metres, enough to have a significant impact on the coastline.

Public storm warning signals have been applied in a number of provinces. Residents in low-lying areas have been warned about possible flash floods and landslides.

More than 600,000 people had evacuated by Saturday morning, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Still, many in Legazpi were ignoring evacuation orders and vowing to stay in their makeshift beachside homes.

"We'be been here (for) 25 years and (have) seen many typhoons," said a woman at the coast. "This one already feels stronger than Typhoon Haiyan, but we won't leave yet."

Farther south, in the city of Tacloban, where memories of Typhoon Haiyan are still fresh, the streets were empty.

"There was a lot of preparation," Orla Fagan, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told CNN.

The UN agency is ready to respond with food, non-food items like pots and pans, hygiene kits, and medical equipment, she said.

More than 80 domestic flights have been cancelled, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

Schools, businesses and government offices had closed at the end of the week to give people time to prepare and government agencies had stockpiled tens of thousands of canned food packages in case of shortages.

IANS

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