At least 1 killed as Typhoon Vamco hammers main Philippine island

Children getting off a government service vehicle upon arrival at an evacuation centre ahead of Typhoon Vamco, in Sucat, Metro Manila, the Philippines, on Nov 11, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

MANILA - At least one person was killed and three others reported missing, as a fast-moving typhoon began to cut across the main island of Luzon late on Wednesday (Nov 11) evening.

Typhoon Vamco, known locally as Ulysses, made landfall at around 10.30pm in Patnanungan town in Quezon Province, 130km east of the capital Manila, with winds of up to 150 kmh and maximum gusts of 205 kmh. Its eye was forecast to be just 60km north of Manila by 8am on Thursday (Nov 12).

The Office of Civil Defence in the Bicol region reported that a 68-year-old man was found dead on the roof of his house in Daet town, Camarines Norte province, 350km south-east of Manila.

Rivers overflowed, debris blocked roads and farmlands were inundated, as the typhoon early on Wednesday approached regions that were still reeling from two powerful typhoons - Goni and Molave - that cut a wide swathe in the southern part of Luzon.

There have also been reports of landslides and storm surges pummelling coastal towns.

Power was out in large parts of metropolitan Manila, home to some 13 million and spanning 16 cities, as hurricane-force winds and a heavy downpour battered the metropolis well past midnight.

Emergency workers were out removing trees that blocked key roads, and thousands of people were evacuated as rivers began to overflow. A dam released water to avoid flooding in low-lying districts.

One photo posted on Twitter showed the steel roof of a house dangling precariously on a bunch of electric cables.

At least 40,000 were evacuated earlier in the day, but thousands more across Metro Manila were led out of their homes to emergency shelters.

Vamco is the eighth typhoon to hammer Luzon since Oct 11.

At least 25 people were killed after Super Typhoon Goni - one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country this year - lashed the Philippines with gusts of up to 310 kmh on Nov 1, and about 13,000 shanties and houses were damaged or swept away in the eastern island province that was first hit by it.

Molave killed 22 people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands before moving on to Vietnam, where it caused deadly landslides.

Vamco looks set to be more devastating than Goni, as its path takes it near Manila and other densely populated areas near the capital.

The state weather agency forecast two to three more typhoons to enter the Philippines in November and another one to two in December.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific cyclone belt. As such, it gets hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year.

The typhoon season usually starts in June and peters out by November. But in recent years, the strongest typhoons have been slamming the country as the year draws to a close in November and December.

Typhoon Haiyan left more than 7,300 people dead and missing after barrelling through central Philippines in November 2013.

Singapore aid agency Mercy Relief on Wednesday 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 make their donations via the following channels:
1. Credit Card donation via Mercy Relief's website

2. Crossed cheque made out to "Mercy Relief Limited" with "Southeast Asia Flood & Typhoon Relief 2020" and email address written on the back of the cheque, and mailed to Blk 160, Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, #01-1568. Singapore 310160

3. Fund transfer to Mercy Relief's DBS Current Account 054-900741-2

4. Crowdfunding via for the "Southeast Asia Flood & Typhoon Relief 2020"

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