Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) slightly weakened Sunday morning

Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) slightly weakened Sunday morning after making landfall but it remains a dangerous tropical cyclone, state weather bureau PAGASA said.

PAGASA, in its 5 a.m. bulletin on the typhoon, said Ruby is now packing 10-minute maximum sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour and 190kph gusts.

Its center was last seen near Catbalogan City, Samar and moving west-northwest at 15 kph.

The typhoon is forecast to be 55 km southeast of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro Monday morning.

Ruby is expected to make its second landfall over Masbate Sunday morning and bring strong winds, storm surges of up to 3 meters high, and heavy to torrential rainfall.

STORM WARNING SIGNALS

Storm signal number 3 has been hoisted over the following areas. These areas should expect winds of 101 to 185 kph in at least 18 hours.

Romblon
Catanduanes
Camarines Sur
Albay
Sorsogon
Masbate
Burias Island
Ticao Island
Northern Samar
Eastern Samar
Samar
Leyte
Biliran

Signal number 2 (winds of 61 to 100 kph in at least 24 hours) is up over the following areas:

Laguna
Batangas
Camarines Norte
Southern Quezon
Marinduque
Oriental Mindoro
Occidental Mindoro
Northern Antique
Aklan
Semirara Grp. of Islands
Capiz
Northern Iloilo
Northern Cebu
Cebu City
Bantayan Island
Camotes Island
Southern Leyte

Signal number 1 (winds of 30 to 60 kph in at least 36 hours) remains up over the following areas:

Metro Manila
Pampanga
Bulacan
Rest of Quezon
Rizal
Bataan
Cavite
Lubang Island
Calamian Group of Islands
Cuyo
Rest of Antique
Rest of Iloilo
Guimaras
Negros Occidental
Negros Oriental
Rest of Cebu
Bohol
Surigao del Norte
Siargao Island
Dinagat Province

LASHING RAIN, STRONG WINDS

The 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 Ruby made landfall, in what a UN agency said was one of the world’s biggest peacetime evacuations.

As the storm barreled 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 Yolanda (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.

Hagupit had weakened to a category 3 storm, two notches below “super typhoon”, but could still unleash huge destruction with torrential rain and potentially disastrous storm surge, weather bureau PAGASA said.

The eye of the typhoon hit the town of Dolores, Eastern Samar at 9:15 p.m. PAGASA said.

“We can expect that heavy rains were dumped on Eastern Samar because Ruby hovered for a long time over the coastal areas,” weather forecaster Jori Loiz said on radio

“Ruby’s lashing will be severe,” Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told government radio. “Let’s be alert. Let’s evacuate to prevent any harm to your families.”

Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific cancelled about 100 flights to central and southern Philippines on Saturday.

Residents of low-lying villages and landslide-prone areas have fled to schools, civic centers, town halls, gyms and churches, the national disaster agency said.

“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.

“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 centers may not be safe.

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

LESSONS LEARNED

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.

The islands of Samar and Leyte were worst-hit by 250 kph (155 mph) winds and storm surges brought by Typhoon Haiyan in November.

“There has been a tremendous amount of learning from last year,” said Greg Matthews, emergency response adviser at the International Rescue Committee. “There have been reports from our field officers and partners that people are evacuating themselves. They are aware of the situation.”

Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever to make landfall, left more than 7,000 dead or missing and more than 4 million homeless or with damaged houses. About 25,000 people in Eastern Samar and Leyte still live in tents, shelters and bunkhouses.

International humanitarian agencies and non-government groups, which have been supporting Haiyan-devastated communities in the central Philippines, are preparing to mobilize aid and relief efforts in the aftermath of Typhoon Hagupit.

Soldiers were deployed to urban centers, particularly in Tacloban City, where widespread looting broke out after Haiyan.

“The soldiers will help our police counterparts in maintaining peace and order, and prevent looting incidents,” said Colonel Restituto Padilla Jr, armed forces spokesman. – with a report from Reuters

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