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Typhoon Hagupit kills 21 as one million flee homes

Typhoon Hagupit has weakened into a tropical storm, leaving at least 21 people dead and forcing more than a million people into shelters but sparing most of a central Philippines region still haunted by last year's monster storm.

While the worst was over in central island provinces, Manila and outlying provinces braced as Hagupit, or "smash" in Filipino, blew nearer with maximum sustained winds of 105kmh.

Forecasters said the storm was expected to slam into a Batangas provincial town about 110km south of Manila by tonight.


Although considerably weaker from its peak power, the storm remains potentially dangerous and could still whip storm surges that could overwhelm coastal villages, they said.

While officials expressed relief that the typhoon had not caused major damage, they warned that Hagupit was still on course to barrel into the southern tip of the main northern island of Luzon where Manila is located.

Hagupit, which made landfall in Eastern Samar late Saturday, was moving slowly at 10kmh and could dump heavy rain that could possibly trigger landslides and flash floods.

Traumatised by the death and destruction from Typhoon Haiyan last year, more than one million people fled to emergency shelters and safer ground. Many have started to troop back home after the typhoon had blown past their provinces, Philippine Red Cross Secretary-General Gwendolyn Pang said.

"The worst is over. It's a big relief because they really got scared of this typhoon with Haiyan in their minds," Pang said.

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said more than 5,000 residents of a shantytown on the edge of Manila Bay have been evacuated.

"We've prepared and trained for this," Estrada said, adding his greatest fear was widespread flooding.