20 May 2019
Houses lie in ruins in Borongan, eastern Samar, on Monday after Hagupit hit the province on Saturday night. Photo: AFP
Houses lie in ruins in Borongan, eastern Samar, on Monday after Hagupit hit the province on Saturday night. Photo: AFP

Weakened typhoon leaves 27 dead in central Philippines

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Hagupit is rising, with officials reporting conflicting figures.

The Philippine Red Cross said Monday 27 people have been killed after the typhoon hit the central Philippines on Saturday night, Reuters reported. The government has reported three dead.

Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon, a former Philippine senator, said volunteers in Eastern Samar, where Hagupit made landfall Saturday night, and in other areas along the typhoon’s path reported a total 23 deaths related to the storm.

The deaths were mostly in Eastern Samar’s capital of Borongan City, where a river swelled because of torrential rains, Gordon was quoted as saying by the Wall Street Journal.

“While reports of a few casualties have unfortunately been received, it is best to await official confirmation from the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council,” presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

UNICEF said 400,000 of the more than one million people displaced were children. It pledged to extend emergency assistance.

So far, Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, appears to have done far less damage than had been feared. The country is still recovering from last year’s Supertyphoon Haiyan, which left more than 6,300 people dead.

As of Monday evening, the storm had weakened considerably after moving northwest and reaching the province of Batangas, where it clocked maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of 80 kilometers an hour.

It also dumped a smaller amount of rain than expected.

The tropical storm continued to move slowly at 13 kilometers an hour—a little more than half the usual speed of a typhoon.

The Agriculture Department said nearly 75,000 rice and corn farmers have been affected by the storm, with an expected production loss of around 48,000 tons for rice—less than half the amount consumed daily in the Philippines—and 7,500 tons for corn.

The National Electrification Administration said while power has been restored to many towns and provinces, around 800,000 people in the central Philippines will remain without electricity for the next few days as power lines are repaired.

Thousands living along the coast of Manila Bay have been evacuated for fear of storm surges. Most of 6,300 deaths caused by Haiyan last year were attributed to its up to 6-meter-high storm surges.

Weather forecaster Jori Loiz of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said Hagupit is expected to exit the Philippines on Wednesday night.

Even before Hagupit could leave the country for Vietnam, Loiz said another weather system is forming in the Pacific Ocean that could form into another storm.

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