At least one person has been killed and three others have been reported missing after Typhoon Vamco (known locally as Ulysses) swept across Luzon on Wednesday night, November 11, and Thursday morning, November 12. The storm made landfall near Pantnanungan in Quezon province on Wednesday night, carrying winds of up to 155 kph (96 mph) and gusts of 255 kph (158 mph). The center of the storm was forecast to pass around 60 km (37 miles) north of Manila on Thursday morning before tracking into the South China Sea. A 68-year-old man was found dead on the roof of his house in Daet (Camarines Norte province; Bicol region). Three other people in Bicol region have been reported missing and hundreds of thousands across Luzon are without power. River levels in many areas are rising dangerously and landslides have been reported in Bicol region. Thousands were evacuated in low lying areas of Central Luzon region and hundreds had to be rescued in the Noveleta area of Cavite province (Calabarzon region).
Flights at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (MNL) were suspended on Thursday morning, as were mass transit system operations and some passenger ferry services. Schools in the capital and other areas of Luzon were suspended on Thursday and many government offices have been closed.
Further strong winds, heavy rain, and associated flooding are expected in the coming hours and residual disruptions to transport, businesses, and utilities are likely to continue over the coming days.
Tropical depressions, storms, and typhoons typically hit Eastern Visayas as well as Southern, Central, and Northern Luzon during the typhoon season between June and November. However, a number of storm systems in the past years have also affected Central and Western Visayas, as well as eastern, northern, central, and western Mindanao, and have reached the country outside the typhoon season. Local meteorologists attribute these changes to climate change. In general, approximately 19 storms and typhoons enter the country's area of responsibility every year, and PAGASA reports that at least six weather systems make a direct landfall.
These storm systems have the potential to unleash heavy downpours and powerful winds, as well as trigger a major storm surge that pose considerable hazards to human life and infrastructure. Despite a credible risk, the Philippines has inadequate preparedness and crisis response that increases the impact of storm systems on human communities, strategic infrastructure as well as travel and service delivery.
Those in affected areas are advised to monitor local weather reports, anticipate transportation disruptions, avoid areas directly affected by flooding, confirm road conditions before setting out, and adhere to instructions issued by local authorities, including evacuation orders. Avoid walking or driving through floodwaters.
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