Philippines: Typhoon Vongfong Flash Update No. 1 (As of 15 May 2020, 7 p.m. local time)


Situation Overview

Following initial landfall as a Category 3 typhoon in San Policarpo, Eastern Samar, just after noon on 14 May, Typhoon Vongfong (locally named Ambo) continues to bring destructive winds and heavy to intense rainfall as it moves northwest towards mainland Luzon. On 15 May, the eye of the typhoon carried maximum sustained winds of 125 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 165 km/h making further landfalls in Northern Samar, Masbate and Quezon provinces.

Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal number 3 (winds of 121 to 170 km/h) was issued for the provinces of Quezon, Rizal, Marinduque and in parts of Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Bulacan, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. Signal number 2 (winds of 61 to 120 km/h) was later raised in Metro Manila, which is currently a major COVID-19 hotspot in the country; and the rest of regions 3 and 4-A. Areas in the typhoon’s path are expected to experience heavy to intense rain, bringing the threat of flooding and rain-induced landslides. Now downgraded to a severe tropical storm, Vongfong is expected to pass east from Metro Manila by the evening of 15 May and leave the landmass by Sunday.

The combination of high winds, sustained heavy rainfall and storm surges has impacted vulnerable communities in the Eastern Visayas, Bicol and Southern Luzon which were also heavily affected by Typhoon Kammuri (local name Tisoy) in December 2019. According to initial reports, one person has been injured and two are missing in Region 8. The threat to homes, toppled trees and power poles and inundated coastal areas prompted thousands of people to seek shelter in evacuation centres despite the health safety risks from the COVID-19 outbreak. Electricity and communication lines, including mobile phone services, have been cut in provinces where the typhoon already passed, primarily as a precautionary measure, and are expected to be restored by the weekend. With clearance operations underway, most roads and major highways are now passable.

Regional authorities in Bicol report that over 300,000 people sought refuge in some 2,300 evacuation centers across the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate and Camarines Sur. About 15,900 people have preemptively evacuated in the provinces of Northern Samar, Samar and Eastern Samar.


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