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Landslides feared as typhoon lashes Philippines

MANILA — Typhoon Hagupit weakened Sunday after slamming into the Philippines, killing at least two people and knocking out power, but causing far less damage than feared after last year’s devastation from a massive typhoon.

The typhoon, which made landfall in Eastern Samar late Saturday, was moving slowly, dumping heavy rain that could possibly trigger landslides and flash floods.

Nearly 900,000 people had fled to emergency shelters and to safer ground before Hagupit, known locally as Ruby, made landfall.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that two casualties including a one-year old girl in the province of Iloilo, the Philippine news agency said..

By Sunday, Hagupit had weakened to a Category 1 typhoon with winds of 85 mph, the Weather Underground said.

The storm comes 13 months after Super Typhoon Haiyan ravaged the island nation, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

Tacloban resident and entrepreneur Cathy Añover, 53, had her home destroyed and her business looted during Typhoon Haiyan last year.

She said Sunday that the wind and rain lasted 12 hours, but there is little damage to the city.

“There is debris all over — some metal sheets that flew around, damaged banana trees and a few homes destroyed — it looks like a storm came through, but nothing compared to Haiyan,” she said.

She said the storm hit Tacloban at 5 p.m. local time Saturday and did not leave the area until 5 a.m. on Sunday.

“It was taking too long to pass. You heard the wind noise and metal sheets flying for 12 hours — it was quite an ordeal. But I am thankful there was no surge and everyone is safe,” she said.

Rhea Estuna, 29, fled to central Tacloban’s evacuation center last week. When she looked outside Sunday, she saw a starkly different scene compared to the horror of Haiyan’s aftermath.

“There were no bodies scattered on the road, no big mounds of debris,” she told the Associated Press by cellphone. “Thanks to God this typhoon wasn’t as violent.”

Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said the organization was concerned about the possibility of landslides and floods.

“It’s not a super typhoon in terms of wind, but as rains are still coming and a slow-moving typhoon means it will linger and there will be more rain,” he said.

He said very little news has been received from the island of Samar, where Hagupit first made landfall.

“There is no power or communication so we are waiting to hear — I just hope it’s not bad news,” he said.

The U.S. military’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center rated the typhoon as a major Category 3 storm with 125 mph winds at landfall.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction & Management Council said 20 trucks were loaded with relief supplies which will be delivered once the roads have been declared passable.

The military is now focusing efforts on clearing the debris-filled roads so the supplies and be delivered.

Many flights have been canceled, leaving thousands stranded.

Contributing: Doyle Rice and John Bacon, USA TODAY; The Associated Press

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Featured Photo: MARLON TANO, AFP/Getty Images
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