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One million flee Typhoon Hagupit

Typhoon strikes the Philippines near areas devastated by Haiyan a year ago

December 6, 2014

Typhoon Hagupit began battering the Philippines late Saturday, with strong winds and rain expected to pummel a central belt of the island nation for days as the storm churns westward. The storm brought 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.

“We received reports about a million people evacuated 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.

The worst of the storm appears likely to pass to the north of the city of Tacloban and other areas that were devastated last year by Typhoon Haiyan, according to maps produced by Philippine meteorologist. Fears there have been heightened because many people are still living in temporary shelters there, and emergency shelters have not been fully rebuilt.

Tacloban City was considered ground zero of the devastating super typhoon Haiyan last year that killed 7,350 people and was the world’s deadliest natural disaster in 2013.

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.

Although Hagupit has weakened to a category 3 storm, two notches below “super typhoon”, it could still result in significant damage, with torrential rain and potentially disastrous storm surges of up to 15 feet, authorities said.

The United States had offered to send nine C-130 transport aircraft, three P-3C Orion, and medical and relief workers, said Major Emmanuel Garcia, commander of the Armed Forces’ 7th civil relations group.

Other foreign governments also sent word they were ready to help the disaster-prone Southeast Asian nation, he said.

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