Manila, Dec 9:
Typhoon Hagupit, which has left at least 27 people dead and 1.6 million displaced in the Philippines, was downgraded Tuesday from a storm to a tropical depression after passing through the nation’s capital where it caused flooding at several places but no major damage.
Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon told media that the toll had risen to 27, adding that the number of victims could increase given that authorities had not been able to reach many regions.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which is being criticised for its delay in confirming the number of victims, said at a press conference Tuesday that official figures accounted for 11 deaths.
It also said that over two million people have been directly affected by Hagupit and that 1.6 million of them were being housed in evacuation centres.
The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration Tuesday downgraded Hagupit to a tropical depression on account of the winds weakening to 45 kph from 105 kph.
Though the authorities feared that Manila, with 12 million residents, would be seriously affected by the storm and suffer serious flooding, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) reported minimum damage having taken place.
Manila’s deputy mayor said no lives were lost in the capital and that 13,000 people were evacuated, but who were now returning to their homes.
However, the Department of Social Welfare and Development said in another press conference, following an evaluation of Eastern Samar which was rocked by Hagupit with winds measuring up to 210 kph, that the damage was considerable.
According to the department’s head, Dinky Soliman, close to 13,000 homes in Eastern Samar were completely destroyed while over 22,000 others had been partially destroyed.
She added that the agricultural sector in the region suffered damage to the tune of 1,040 million pesos ($23.3 million).
Every year, between 15 to 20 typhoons hit Philippines during the rainy season, which normally begins in June and ends in November.
Haiyan, one of the strongest typhoons ever, rocked Philippines last year, killing 6,300 people, displacing over 1,000 and affecting another 14 million. (IANS)