Typhoon Molave strikes Philippines, displacing over 100,000

Residents fix a tarp over a house ahead of Typhoon Molave's landfall along the coastal area of Legaspi City, south of Manila, on Oct 25, 2020.
Residents fix a tarp over a house ahead of Typhoon Molave's landfall along the coastal area of Legaspi City, south of Manila, on Oct 25, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

MANILA - Typhoon Molave cut a wide swath as it swept across the Philippines on Monday (Oct 26), dumping heavy rains and bringing gale-force winds that uprooted trees, inundated villages and forced over 100,000 people to evacuate.

Those forced out of their homes by the typhoon, locally known as Quinta, are from Albay province and elsewhere across the Bicol region – home to almost 6 million – and in nearby Quezon province. 

Most live in districts prone to landslides, flooding and storm surges.

Images posted on social media showed a woman wading in waters up to her shoulders, and a car almost fully submerged in a village in Legazpi city, Albay, some 460km south-east of the capital Manila.

Disaster-response officials have yet to release a full accounting of the damage.

Molave made landfall at around 6pm in Albay on Sunday, and barrelled its way through provinces in the southern part of the main island of Luzon and the northernmost part of the Visayas in central Philippines, with winds of up to 125kmh.

The typhoon blew off roofs and knocked down walls of houses and flooded rice fields. It toppled electric posts and scattered wires across the road, cutting power to large parts of Albay.

Dozens of outrigger canoes were washed ashore in a fishing town on the island province of Oriental Mindoro. Knee-deep floods and large debris that blocked roads were reported in Cavite and Batangas provinces, just an hour south of Manila.

The Coast Guard said a yacht sank off Bauan town in Batangas. Eight people were aboard. Seven were rescued, but one still could not be found. The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that at least 12 fishermen who set off from Catanduanes province are now missing.

Agence France-Presse reported that at least three people, including a baby who drowned, were killed. But the NDRRMC said it had yet to receive reports of casualties.

Sea travel operations were cancelled in ports in Batangas, leaving some 500 stranded. 

Classes were suspended across Metro Manila, as strong winds continued to pound the capital as of noon on Monday.

Molave is presently a category one typhoon on a five-category scale, with five being the strongest. It is expected to strengthen over the South China Sea as it heads towards central Vietnam. 

Dozens have died in Vietnam in recent weeks from a series of storms that have triggered huge floods and landslides.

Molave follows Tropical Storm Saudel, which last week caused widespread flooding in Quezon province in the Calabarzon region.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific cyclone belt. 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.

In November 2013, typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record to hit land, swept through central Philippines, levelling entire towns and leaving more than 7,300 dead or missing.