Legaspi: Typhoon Hagupit tore apart homes and sent waves crashing through coastal communities across the eastern Philippines on Sunday, creating more misery for millions following a barrage of deadly disasters.
The typhoon roared in from the Pacific Ocean and into remote fishing communities of Samar island yesterday night with wind gusts of 210 kilometres (130 miles) an hour, local weather agency Pagasa said.
The wind strength at landfall made Hagupit the most powerful storm to hit the Philippines this year, exceeding a typhoon in July that killed more than 100 people.
"Many houses, especially in the coastal areas, were blown away by strong winds," Stephanie Uy-Tan, the mayor of Catbalogan, a city on Samar, told AFP by phone today morning.
"Trees and power lines were toppled, tin roofs were blown off and there is flooding."
Fearful of a repeat of last year when Super Typhoon Haiyan claimed more than 7,350 lives, the government undertook a massive evacuation effort ahead of Hagupit that saw millions of people seek shelter.
Hopes of avoiding a mass disaster were boosted by Hagupit's maximum wind gusts dropping to 170 kilometres an hour, with sustained winds of 140 kilometres an hour, on today morning.
There were no reported casualties as of 11:30 am (0900 IST), the head of the government's disaster management agency, Alexander Pama, told reporters in Manila.
However Hagupit was forecast to take three days to cut across the Philippines, passing over mostly poor central regions, and authorities were still bracing for worst-case scenarios.
The government warned of storm surges up to five metres (16 feet) high in some areas, flash flooding, landslides and winds strong enough to tear apart even sturdy homes.
Tens of millions of people live in the typhoon's path, including those in the central Philippines who are still struggling to recover from the devastation of Haiyan, which hit 13 months ago.
Haiyan was the strongest storm ever recorded on land, with winds of 315 kilometres an hour, and generated tsunami-like storm surges that ravaged entire towns.
In Tacloban, one of the cities worst-hit by Haiyan, palm-thatch temporary houses built by aid agencies for survivors of last year's typhoon had been torn apart, vice mayor Jerry Yaokasin told AFP.