Typhoon forces evacuation of hundreds of thousands in Philippines

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Strong waves caused by Typhoon Vongfong batter houses along the coastline of Catbalogan city in the eastern Philippines on May, 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Simvale Sayat)
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Dark clouds envelop the skies as workers fold a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila, Philippines on Thursday May, 14, 2020. (AP)
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Updated 15 May 2020

Typhoon forces evacuation of hundreds of thousands in Philippines

  • Weather authority warns the storm may move to other parts of the country

MANILA: A powerful typhoon hit the central Philippines on Thursday, forcing an evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people who had been confined to their homes amid coronavirus lockdowns.

Typhoon Ambo (Vongfong) struck as Metro Manila and several other areas remain under community quarantine with nearly 11,900 people known to have contracted the virus and 790 to have succumbed to it.

With winds of up to 155 km/h near the center and gusts of up to 190 km/h, the typhoon made landfall over San Policarpo town in Eastern Samar at 12:15 p.m., the Philippine Atmospheric Geophys- ical and Astronomical (PAGASA) said, adding that the storm was bringing violent winds and heavy rain to the northern part of the province.

Heavy rain also hit parts of Northern Samar, Masbate, Sorsogon, Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Sur, and the rest of Eastern Visayas.

On Friday, heavy to intense rains are expected over Bicol region, and moderate to heavy rains over Northern Samar, Quezon, Aurora, Marinduque, and Romblon.

Residents in the affected areas have been advised to take appropriate measures and listen for updates, as officials have warned that flooding and rain-induced landslides may be expected.

PAGASA said that within 24 hours, a storm surge of 2-4 meters may be experienced over the coastal areas of Northern Samar, Eastern Samar (east coast), Samar (west coast), Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quezon, and Aurora.

Amid the ongoing health crisis, the typhoon brings a further challenge to authorities responsible for enforcing social distancing measures at evacuation centers.

Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone said in a radio interview that most schools normally used as shelters have been converted into COVID-19 quarantine facilities, but said that evacuees would not be brought to these facilities.

In Northern Samar, Governor Edwin Ongchuan ordered a forced evacuation of 300,000 to 400,000 people.

Meanwhile, the Philippine Navy has directed its forces in Luzon island to implement disaster mitigation strategies and to monitor the situation for possible deployment and search and rescue operations as Ambo is expected to hit the largest and most populous island.

Police will work with regional disaster management councils to ensure public safety and enforce strict quarantine measures in the areas affected by Ambo, National Police Chief Gen. Archie Francisco F. Gamboa said.


Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky

Updated 2 min 42 sec ago

Indonesia’s Mt. Sinabung blasts tower of smoke and ash into sky

  • Volcano on Sumatra island has been rumbling since 2010 and saw a deadly eruption in 2016
  • Indonesia is home to about 130 active volcanoes due to its position on the ‘Ring of Fire’

MEDA, Indonesia: Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung erupted Monday, belching a massive column of ash and smoke 5,000 meters into the air and coating local communities in debris.
The volcano on Sumatra island has been rumbling since 2010 and saw a deadly eruption in 2016.
Activity had picked up in recent days, including a pair of smaller eruptions at the weekend.
There were no reports of injuries or deaths, but authorities warned of possible lava flows.
“People living nearby are advised to be on alert for the potential appearance of lava,” Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation Center said in a statement.
The crater’s alert status remained at the second-highest level.
No one lives inside a previously announced no-go zone around the volcano, but small communities nearby were coated in a layer of thick ash from Monday’s eruption.
Sinabung roared back to life in 2010 for the first time in 400 years. After another period of inactivity it erupted once more in 2013, and has remained highly active since.
In 2016, seven people died in one of Sinabung’s eruptions, while a 2014 eruption killed 16.
In late 2018, a volcano in the strait between Java and Sumatra islands erupted, causing an underwater landslide that unleashed a tsunami which killed more than 400 people.
Indonesia is home to about 130 active volcanoes due to its position on the “Ring of Fire,” a belt of tectonic plate boundaries circling the Pacific Ocean where frequent seismic activity occurs.