Typhoon-ravaged Philippines pummelled by new storm
The Philippines has been hit by a typhoon leaving at least one person dead and three missing, officials have said.
The north-eastern provinces were hit again while they were still struggling to recover from a powerful storm that left a trail of death and destruction just over a week ago.
Typhoon Vamco strengthened with sustained winds of 87mph and gusts of up to 121mph as it barrelled close to the Polillo islands in Quezon province on Wednesday.
Nearly 200,000 people have been evacuated to safety in the region, some of them forcibly, officials said.
Quezon and outlying provinces have hardly recovered from the devastation wrought early this month by Typhoon Goni, which blew ashore with destructive super-typhoon force but weakened after slamming into mountain ranges and a string of island provinces.
One of the strongest typhoons in the world this year, Goni left more than 30 people dead or missing and damaged or destroyed more than 270,000 houses and shanties, many along coastal villages.
“This typhoon will test once more our spirit, bruised but not broken,” military chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said of the new typhoon.
Navy, air force and army forces have remained on high alert from the last typhoon and again deployed disaster-response contingents in high-risk areas ahead of the onslaught, Gen Gapay said in a statement.
Disaster-response officials reported flooding in 32 towns near the country’s north-eastern coast and landslides in the agricultural region, where they said a man died and three others were missing.
More than 187,000 villagers fled to safety on Wednesday, about half of them taking shelter mostly in government-run evacuation centres, according to the Office of Civil Defence.
Tens of thousands of others remained displaced after losing their homes in Goni’s devastation, including in the hard-hit island province of Catanduanes, where that typhoon made landfall on November 1 and damaged or destroyed tens of thousands of coastal shanties, houses and buildings, including emergency shelters, and knocked down power and communications.
In Guinobatan in the nearby Albay province, heavy rain generated by Goni washed down volcanic mud, debris and boulders in a torrent of mudflow that engulfed about 150 houses. The owners of those houses remain displaced and were warned against returning to the community as the new typhoon approached.
With its wide band of rain clouds, Typhoon Vamco may pass about 31 miles north of Manila on Thursday if it does not shift course, forecasters said.
Classes and government work were suspended in the capital and outlying regions on Wednesday.
Several international and domestic flights were cancelled, seaports were closed and ferries and cargo ships were prohibited from venturing out to sea near the typhoon’s path, stranding hundreds of commuters, officials said.
Authorities warned of storm surges of up to six feet in Manila and outlying coastal cities, and villagers along the coast and low-lying areas were advised to move to safer ground.