Authorities in the Philippines on Wednesday ordered thousands of residents in eastern coastal communities to evacuate ahead of the arrival of Typhoon Vamco, only weeks after the country was battered by the most powerful storm recorded anywhere in the world this year.
Vamco, which carries sustained winds of 125 kilometres per hour (78 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 155 kph (96.3kph), is due to make landfall later on Wednesday and is the 21st tropical storm to hit the Philippines this year.
“We are just 1 percent 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 station.
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 missing.
Vamco is due to make landfall in Polillo 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 three-metre (nine-foot) storm surge, were ordered to leave their homes, said Cristina Bosque, mayor of Polillo. 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, usually sees about 20 tropical storms each year.
Vamco is expected to head towards the central region of Vietnam after leaving the Philippines.
Floods and mudslides over the past month have already killed at least 160 people in that area, and left dozens missing, according to official data.