Philippine authorities evacuate thousands as Typhoon Vamco approaches

A photo from Nov 3, 2020, shows buildings that were destroyed during Typhoon Goni in Catanduanes province, Philippines.
A photo from Nov 3, 2020, shows buildings that were destroyed during Typhoon Goni in Catanduanes province, Philippines.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA (REUTERS) -  Philippine authorities have ordered thousands of residents in eastern coastal communities to evacuate ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vamco on Wednesday (Nov 11), only weeks after the country was battered by the strongest cyclone so far this year.

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

“We are just one per cent into our recovery and then here comes another typhoon. We’re now feeling strong wind and rain,” Joseph Cua, the governor of Catanduanes province, told DZMM radio.

The island province of Catanduanes and nearby Albay, both southeast of the capital Manila, bore the brunt of Typhoon Goni in late October, a category 5 typhoon that killed 25 people and left six people missing.

Vamco is due to make landfall in Polilio Island on Wednesday evening and hit rice-producing provinces north of the capital before exiting the Philippines’ main island of Luzon on Thursday, Chris Perez, a state weather forecaster, told DZMM.

Residents in coastal communities, who are expecting up to a 3m storm surge, were ordered to leave their homes, said Cristina Bosque, mayor of Polilio. But ensuring the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 in evacuation centres remained a challenge, she said.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees around 20 tropical storms annually.

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

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.

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

“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,” Suhaimi Rafdi, Chairman of Mercy Relief, said in a statement.

“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 giving.sg page: “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.