Philippines downgrades Hagupit to depression

Philippine weather bureau downgrades Hagupit to 'tropical depression' as it weakens without causing major damage.

    Philippines downgrades Hagupit to depression
    Tens of thousands of people spent Monday night in evacuation centres to wait out the storm [Reuters]

    Typhoon Hagupit has weakened to a tropical depression after it brushed past the Philippine capital without causing major damage.

    The Philippine weather bureau, PAGASA downgraded Hagupit from a tropical storm to a tropical depression on Tuesday, as it passed over the far western islands of the Southeast Asian archipelago and approached the South China Sea.

    Office and government workers who had been ordered to stay at home returned to their jobs on Tuesday, and the stock market resumed operations.

    Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas, reporting from the city of Batangas, some 80km south of Manila, said winds had slowed as the storm reached the western Philippines.

    "While my umbrella was turned inside out it wasn't ripped out of my hand," Thomas said.

    "You get your feet wet, there are puddles everywhere, but there are no roads impassable by vehicles in Batangas and most of the capital."

    Sparing most of the central Philippines still reeling from last year's super Typhoon Haiyan, Hagupit had maximum sustained winds of 60 kilometres per hour on Tuesday.

    Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon told the AFP news agency that the number of people confirmed killed was 27, although he expected that number to rise with full assessments from Samar and other areas yet to be done.

    The government put the death toll at 15.

    Most of the people killed were on the far eastern island of Samar, where Hagupit initially made landfall as a typhoon on the weekend with winds of 210kph.

    Aid agencies told Al Jazeera that in some areas of eastern Samar, at least 80 percent of homes were destroyed with heavy rains preventing rescue efforts.

    Traumatised by the death and destruction from Typhoon Haiyan last year, more than a million people fled to more than 1,000 emergency shelters and safer grounds as the typhoon approached.

    The Philippines endures about 20 major storms a year, with scientists blaming climate change for the growing number of violent and unpredictable storms.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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