EASTERN VISAYAS NEWS – The Eastern Visayas have emerged relatively unscathed after typhoon Hagupit/Ruby made landfall in Samar last night. The once Super-Tyhoon had receded to a category 3 storm as it tracked north-west across the Visayan region, though still brought 210 kph (130 mph) winds that lashed the islands for over 4 hours.
Two evacuees died in Samar, one from cardiac arrest, the other from an unknown illness, but mercifully the casualties and damage from the storm have been much less than feared, thanks mainly to the early preparations and evacuation of almost 700,000 residents from vulnerable areas.
Power and communications were cut across most of the region and many floods and landslides have been reported. Four provinces have declared a state of emergency.
“The wind is blowing so strongly, it’s like it is whirling. The waters have risen now,” reported Mabel Evardone, an official of the coastal town of Sulat in Eastern Samar.
The typhoon, now heading towards Masbate and Mindoro, is expected to make several more landfalls before it exits the country by Wednesday.
Although the wind speeds are much reduced, the typhoon is travelling very slowly, with its main threat now being the large volumes of rain deposited in its path and the resultant flooding and risk of landslides.
“Ruby’s lashing will be severe,” interior secretary Manuel Roxas said. “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. Air and sea travel was suspended and six domestic airports were closed.
Although Hagupit is likely to bring strong winds and heavy rain to Manila, the capital is not in its direct path and also likely to be spared the worst effects of this terrifying but mercifully muted invader.