Typhoon Hagupit rips through Philippines

A man walks past destroyed houses in Tacloban, central Philippines, on Dec. 7, 2014 after Typhoon Hagupit. (Lito Bagunas/AFP/Getty)
A man walks past destroyed houses in Tacloban, central Philippines, on Dec. 7, 2014 after Typhoon Hagupit.

LEGAZPI, Philippines — Typhoon Hagupit ripped through the Philippines on Sunday, downing trees and knocking out power to a region still struggling to bounce back from a deadly storm last year that killed thousands. At least two deaths were confirmed as officials worked to assess the damage.

The storm weakened slightly on Sunday — with sustained of 87 miles per hour and gusts of up to 105 mph —according to the weather bureau, PAGASA. More than 1 million people had fled to shelters by the time Hagupitmade landfall Saturday night, according to Reuters. The eye of Hagupit hit the town of Dolores in Eastern Samar around 9:15 p.m. local time (8:15 a.m. ET) on Saturday. After Hagupit — Filipino for "smash" or "lash" — hammered Eastern Samar, part of a region that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan's which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing— it moved across the island before making a second landfall on the island of Masbate.

Early indications showed the islands appear to have been spared the vast devastation wrought by Haiyan — though officials warned assessments were still underway. In the coastal villages of Dolores, on Samar island, Mayor Emiliana Villacarillo told The Associated Press that around 80 percent of homes were destroyed.

"Only the big houses were left standing," Villacarillo told the AP.

The National Disaster Management Coordination agency confirmed to NBC News that two people — a 1-year-old girl and a 65-year-old man — had died in the town of Ilo Ilo.

Rhea Estuna, a 29-year-old mother of one, had fled to an evacuation center in Tacloban — the city hardest-hit by Haiyan last year — and waited it out as wind and rain lashed the school where she and her family sought refuge. When she peered outside Sunday, she told The Associated Press she saw a starkly different aftermath than the one she witnessed last year after Haiyan struck. "There were no bodies scattered on the road, no big mounds of debris," Estuna told the AP. "Thanks to God this typhoon wasn't as violent."

The vast and fickle storm system is expected to hover over the island nation for the next few days. PAGASA said Hagupit is expected to make a third landfall on Sibuyan Island on Sunday night, bringing strong winds and storm surge. The full extent of the damage was not clear early Sunday, but trees were down and power was out to large swathes of land. Disaster relief group Feed the Children said it was expecting as many as 30,000 people would need assistance in the immediate aftermath of the storm, and expected Leyte and Samar to be among the hardest-hit areas.

Read more at NBC News