Philippines evacuates thousands as Typhoon Vamco approaches

MANILA • The Philippine authorities have ordered thousands of residents in eastern coastal communities to evacuate ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vamco, only weeks after the country was battered by the strongest typhoon so far this year.

State weather forecaster Chris Perez told DZMM radio that the typhoon was due to make landfall in Polillo island last night and hit rice-producing provinces north of the capital Manila before exiting the Philippines' main island of Luzon today.

Vamco, with sustained winds of 125kmh and gusts of up to 155kmh, is the 21st tropical storm to hit the Philippines this year.

The governor of Catanduanes province Joseph Cua told DZMM radio: "We are just 1 per cent into our recovery and then here comes another typhoon. We're now feeling strong wind and rain."

The island province of Catanduanes and nearby Albay, both south-east of Manila, bore the brunt of Typhoon Goni late last month, a Category 4 typhoon that killed 25 people and left six people missing.

Polillo Mayor Cristina Bosque said residents in coastal communities - who are expecting up to a 3m storm surge - were ordered to leave their homes.

But ensuring the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in evacuation centres remained a challenge, she added.

After lashing the Philippines, Vamco is forecast to head towards Vietnam. The country's weather agency is expecting Vamco to arrive in its central region on Sunday, bringing intense rain.

Floods and mudslides over the past month have killed at least 160 people in central Vietnam, left dozens missing and damaged 390,000 houses, official data showed.

Singapore aid agency Mercy Relief yesterday launched a fund-raising appeal for victims of recent storms and floods in South-east Asia. The appeal runs until Dec 10.

Mercy Relief chairman Suhaimi Rafdi said in a statement: "Our utmost priority is to provide emergency relief aid of food packs, clean water, hygiene kits, blankets and tarpaulin to the affected communities in Vietnam and Philippines.

"The situation is expected to worsen in the coming weeks and our response team will be working closely with our local partners and authorities to assess the situation."

The public can donate online on the Mercy Relief website or via its page for the "Southeast Asia Flood & Typhoon Relief 2020".

People can also post a cheque to or donate cash at Mercy Relief's Lorong 1 Toa Payoh office.

The agency is also accepting bank transfer donations to its DBS Bank current account.

More information can be found on the Mercy Relief website.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 12, 2020, with the headline 'Philippines evacuates thousands as Typhoon Vamco approaches'. Print Edition | Subscribe