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Thousands flee as yet another typhoon menaces Philippines

Posted Nov 11, 2020 by AFP
Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in storm-battered parts of the Philippines Wednesday as the third typhoon in as many weeks barrelled towards the country.
Winds batter Legazpi City  Albay province
Winds batter Legazpi City, Albay province
Charism SAYAT, AFP

Thousands of people were evacuated from their homes in storm-battered parts of the Philippines Wednesday as the third typhoon in as many weeks barrelled towards the country.

Vamco grazed Catanduanes Island -- which was devastated by Typhoon Goni less than two weeks ago -- as it neared the most populous island of Luzon where it was expected to make landfall early Thursday.

Powerful winds and intense rain battered parts of central and southern Luzon as the eye of the typhoon approached.

One person was reported dead and three others were missing in Camarines Norte province, Civil Defense said.

Winds batter Legazpi City  Albay province
Winds batter Legazpi City, Albay province
Charism SAYAT, AFP

Authorities had planned to evacuate about 50,000 people from their homes. By Wednesday night, more than 160,000 were in emergency centres, the agency said.

It was not clear if that figure also included people left homeless by previous typhoons in recent weeks.

The Bicol region, which Vamco will cross as it heads towards Manila, is still reeling from deadly typhoons Molave and Goni, which killed dozens of people and destroyed tens of thousands of homes.

Swathes of the region remain without power and with only limited or no telecommunication services after Goni -- the most powerful typhoon this year -- toppled power lines, flattened houses and flooded roads.

Residents shelter in a classroom used as an evacuation centre in Camalig  Albay province
Residents shelter in a classroom used as an evacuation centre in Camalig, Albay province
Charism SAYAT, AFP

Pre-emptive evacuations of around 400,000 people were credited with saving many lives.

Evacuation efforts on Catanduanes were complicated this time, however, after Goni destroyed some of its emergency shelters.

"It's like we are on one percent recovery and then... Ulysses (the Philippine name for Vamco) is coming," Catanduanes Governor Joseph Cua told local broadcaster ABS-CBN.

"I hope that people will never get tired of helping us."

Vamco's winds could reach a peak intensity of 140-155 kilometres (87-96 miles) per hour before it makes landfall, the weather forecaster said.

The typhoon was expected to dump heavy rain in Manila and nearby provinces as it swept across the already-sodden country.

The weather service also warned of flooding, landslides and storm surges several metres high along parts of the east coast and in the capital.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.