Typhoon Vamco batters the Philippines; 39 killed and several injured

 Friday, November 13, 2020

Nearly a week after being hit by typhoon Goni, the strongest storm of 2020, the Philippines has been largely battered by another typhoon Vamco (also known as Ulysses in the country).  The typhoon hit the country with sustained winds of 150 kilometers (90 miles) per hour that is equal to a category 2 hurricane causing floods and two to three meters of storm surge. Torrential rains lashed provinces in the main Luzon Island and submerged parts of the capital Manila.

The storm made its first landfall in Patnanungan, Quezon and continued west to hit Luzon and moved to Manila resulting in the worst flooding the capital has witnessed in years. According to latest reports, the death toll rose to approximately 39 with several individuals highly injured and dozens still missing. More than 180,000 have been evacuated and rescue operations continue to be underway.

Major damage was caused to property and infrastructure with around 390,000 homes destroyed. Millions went completely powerless for hours as water bodies rose as high as 3 feet in less than three hours. Several dams were in danger of overflowing and people continued to wade through waist-high flood waters carrying their valuables. Tens of thousands of households were submerged under waters especially in the worst-hit Marikina suburb.

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro informed that nearly 40,000 homes have been partially or fully drowned in the area alone. Flights and mass transportation remained suspended in Manila and coats guards stopped all port operations. Government work and virtual classed were also suspended and financial markets were shut as rescue operators ferried residents around in boats.

Marikina Mayor also mentioned that the air rescue efforts were hampered by the weather and has further appealed for more rescue resources to be made available as the city is left overwhelmed by a large number of residents trapped on the rooftops of their flooded homes. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana informed that government agencies had started to clear landslides and debris, while Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte pledged shelter, relief goods, financial aid and counselling for affected residents.

According to reports from the command center nearly 411 areas have been flooded, 519 have lost electricity and 104 areas are left without telecommunication service. As informed by PAGASA, the storm is now moving towards Vietnam via the South China Sea. A long term forecast from the Joint Typhoon Warning Center shows that a weaker Vamco is likely to affect Vietnam this weekend, with possibilities of more flooding.

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