Southeast nation pummelled by sixth storm in five weeks, adding more pain to devastated communities.
Torrential rain from Typhoon Vamco deluged provinces on the Philippines’ main island of Luzon on Thursday, killing at least one person, paralysing parts of Manila and bringing more misery to communities still trying to clean up after Typhoon Goni, which struck at the beginning of the month.
The Philippines Coast Guard said it had deployed at least 20 rescue teams with search and rescue equipment in the capital and nearby provinces, as residents shared videos and photographs of the devastation on social media.
The Philippine Red Cross said the storm meant more trouble for people still trying to clean up after Goni, which left at least 25 people dead and destroyed thousands of homes. Filipinos are also struggling with the prolonged effect of the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s critical to quickly begin rebuilding and help people recover after a devastating typhoon, but these non-stop storms are slamming our communities during a deadly pandemic, making this one of the most complicated disaster responses ever,” Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said in a statement.
“We have mobilised all our available resources to meet this new challenge, supporting communities that are getting back on their feet after being hit hard by multiple storms on top of the relentless physical, emotional and economic toll of COVID-19.”
— Karen Davila (@iamkarendavila) November 12, 2020
Rescue teams of the Army, PNP, and the private sector continue rescue operations for residents trapped in Tañong along A. Bonifacio Avenue in Marikina City. The flood is chest-deep along the main road. | via @dolandcastro pic.twitter.com/oDsKtAYX4S
— ABS-CBN News Channel (@ANCALERTS) November 12, 2020
Three people are so far known to be missing as a result of Vamco – the 21st typhoon to hit the country this year.
Arlyn Rodriguez, a resident in Marikina City, told DZMM radio station she was awaiting rescue with 20 others, mostly children and elderly after the flood waters rose quickly.
Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro said 40,000 homes had been either fully or partially submerged in the area.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a population, already in the grip of the COVID pandemic, facing another severe storm, the sixth to hit the Philippines in the past five weeks,” said Robert Kaufman, the head of he IFRC Philippine Country Office, as the organisation launched a humanitarian appeal for 3.5 million Swiss francs ($3.8m).
“Every woman, man and child in this devastated region is facing hardship and increased risks. We cannot leave them to face these challenges alone.
In parts of Manila, people waded through waist-high floods, carrying valuables and pets. One video showed a temporary bridge propelled along by the floodwaters crashing into a flyover.
Flights and public transport were suspended while the coast guard stopped operations at the port operations and government offices were closed.
Vamco has now weakened, with sustained winds of 130 kilometres (81 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 215 kph (133.59 mph) as it moves across Luzon, home to half the Philippines’ 108 million people.
The typhoon is forecast to head towards central Vietnam, where floods and landslides over the past month have killed at least 160 people, left dozens missing and damaged 390,000 houses.