Typhoon 'Ruby' Batters Philippines, Killing At Least 27 So Far

The death toll from a giant storm crossing the Philippines rose to 27 on Tuesday, the Red Cross said, but there was widespread relief after it brushed the capital without causing major damage.

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So far, at least 27 people have been killed in the deadly storm that battered the Philippines, The Red Cross said. Ruby weakened on Monday as it rumbled from one island to another, passing close to the densely populated capital city of Manila.

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 210km an hour.

Hagupit then weakened while moving slowly west, passing close to the capital Manila on Monday night and Tuesday morning without dumping forecast heavy rain.

Tens of thousands of people, mostly the city's poorest residents who live in shanty homes along the coast and riverbanks, spent the night in evacuation centres to wait out the storm.

They returned to their homes on Monday in drizzly weather after only moderate rain and no major flooding throughout the night.
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It brought fierce winds and torrential rain to roughly the same region ravaged by Super Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013

A typhoon victim recover clothes in the remains of her house in Dolores, Samar, in central Philippines

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But while Haiyan left more than 7,000 people dead or missing, Hagupit's toll so far remains in the double digits.

Hagupit has had a powerful impact across several major Philippine islands, driving hundreds of thousands of people from their houses, tearing down trees and causing floods. It has destroyed nearly 1,000 homes, Gwendolyn Pang, the secretary general of the Philippine Red Cross, told CNN.

"I am worried -- I am thinking of my children and my grandchildren. They are so young, that's why we're here," said Pilar Rangosajo, a grandmother taking refuge in an evacuation center in the city of Legazpi. "It's so hard for me because every typhoon damages our home. We don't have the money to fix it."

Her concerns are common in a country where many people live in lightly built wooden houses.

Hagupit roared in from the Pacific as a Category 3 typhoon on Saturday night, churning across Samar island and on to the smaller island of Masbate. Its effects were felt across the central Philippines, including Leyte island and southern Luzon.

"Our kitchen was wrecked. Around us, our neighbors' homes were flattened like folded paper," Arnalyn Bula, a 27-year-old bank employee, said from Dolores town in Eastern Samar, where Hagupit first made landfall.

Howling winds had pounded the walls of her aunt's home where her family sought shelter, she said.

Learning lessons from Haiyan, the authorities had launched a massive evacuation operation ahead of the storm, emptying whole towns and villages in coastal and landslide prone areas

People shovel sand that partially buried their home after a storm surge brought by typhoon Hagupit in Sabang village, Legazpi City

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"We saw that with preparation and being alert we prevented tragedy and harm, we took our countrymen away from harm," Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas told a televised government disaster meeting in Samar. "It is sad to hear news of deaths, but this is very low, way below what the potential was."

Orla Fagan, spokeswoman and advocacy officer for Asia-Pacific at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) praised the authorities efforts to alert remote communities to the approaching danger.

"They're on the game this time," Fagan said. "They have taken all of the lessons from Haiyan."

Meanwhile, officials have said 11 countries have pledged to send aid.

Australia has pledged 800 metric tons of rice to people affected by the typhoon.

Philippines Armed Forces Chief General Gregorio Catapang said local authorities were working with international groups.

"We are preparing the groundwork ... that will allow foreign nationals to help us," he said.

Residents run from strong waves brought by Typhoon Ruby

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