Tuesday, Aug 04, 2020 | Last Update : 12:16 AM IST

133rd Day Of Lockdown

Maharashtra45019628703015842 Tamil Nadu2632222022834241 Andhra Pradesh166586886781537 Karnataka139571625002594 Delhi1384821242544021 Uttar Pradesh97362553931778 West Bengal78232548181731 Telangana6766048609551 Gujarat63684466892482 Bihar5956736637322 Rajasthan4495531216706 Assam4290532385105 Haryana3629729690433 Odisha3491321955236 Madhya Pradesh3353523550886 Kerala259121446383 Jammu and Kashmir2141613127396 Punjab1785311466423 Jharkhand121884513115 Chhatisgarh9608699158 Uttarakhand7593443786 Goa6530466853 Tripura5248346323 Puducherry3806230952 Manipur283117377 Himachal Pradesh2654150813 Arunachal Pradesh19359693 Nagaland19356484 Chandigarh111769819 Meghalaya8742645 Sikkim6582891 Mizoram4702580
  World   Asia  14 May 2020  Strong typhoon slams into pandemic-hit Philippines

Strong typhoon slams into pandemic-hit Philippines

AP
Published : May 14, 2020, 3:47 pm IST
Updated : May 14, 2020, 3:47 pm IST

Authorities evacuate tens of thousands of people while trying to avoid the virus risks of overcrowding emergency shelters

Dark clouds envelop the skies as workers fold a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila. (AP)
 Dark clouds envelop the skies as workers fold a billboard to prepare for the coming of typhoon Vongfong in Manila. (AP)

Manila: A strong typhoon slammed into the eastern Philippines on Thursday after authorities evacuated tens of thousands of people while trying to avoid the virus risks of overcrowding emergency shelters.

The first typhoon to hit the country this year rapidly gained force as it blew from the Pacific then barged ashore in San Policarpio town in Eastern Samar province around noon, weather agency administrator Vicente Malano said.

 

The typhoon came as the Philippines is trying to fight COVID-19 outbreaks largely by locking Filipinos in their homes and prohibiting gatherings that can set off infections. More than 11,600 infections, including 772 deaths, have been reported in the country.

Typhoon Vongfong, which was packing maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour (93 miles per hour) and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph), was forecast to blow northwestward and barrel across densely populated eastern provinces and cities before exiting in the north Sunday.

Overcrowding in emergency shelters is a common scene in the archipelago hit by about 20 typhoons and storms annually and regularly experiencing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

 

Many officials faced a difficult dilemma on how to shield villagers from the double threats. Video showed fierce rain and wind swaying coconut trees, rattling tin roofs and obscuring visibility in Eastern Samar, where some towns lost power.

“This is very complicated,” Mayor Benjamin Ver of a town in the typhoon’s path told The Associated Press by telephone.

Far-flung Jipapad is prone to landslides and flooding. The town in Eastern Samar province is surrounded by mountains and planked by two rivers that often swell in storms. The only evacuation centers for its 8,000 villagers are a gymnasium and the town hall where residents could be sheltered from the typhoon. Ver, who also is the town’s only doctor, said he has secured enough face masks to protect his villagers from the virus in the town hall when the typhoon hits.

 

Observing social distancing “is almost impossible” if all the villagers are cramped in the town hall, but Ver said he would see what else can be done.

Jipapad and the entire Eastern Samar, a province of half a million people, fortunately, remain free of coronavirus infections unlike neighbouring regions, provincial Gov. Ben Evardone said. All emergency shelters have been turned into quarantine facilities with medical equipment in case of outbreaks but may have to be rearranged back into evacuation centers if large numbers of people need shelter, Evardone told The AP.

Northern Samar provincial Gov. Edwin Ongchuan said he has asked for twice the usual number of school buildings to be turned into typhoon shelters to accommodate about 80,000 residents who were being forcibly evacuated from high-risk coastal villages.

 

“If we used 10 school buildings before, we now need 20 to accommodate the evacuees with social distancing,” Ongchuan said by telephone.

The government weather agency warned that “along with large swells, this storm surge may cause potentially life-threatening coastal inundation” and added that sea travel would be dangerous in regions expected to be battered by Vongfong, a Vietnamese word for wasp.

Metropolitan Manila will not be hit directly by the storm but may be lashed by strong winds. Officials were advised to remove many medical quarantine tents set up outside hospitals that could be blown away, Malano said.

The impoverished eastern region initially hit by Vongfong was devastated in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing, flattened entire villages swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million.

 

Tags: typhoon, easrtern samar, manila, coronavirus, covid-19
Location: Philippines, National Capital Reg, Manila