MANILA – Typhoon Vamco lashed the Philippines’ northern island of Luzon on Thursday morning, including capital Manila, where rivers and dams are at risk of overflowing.
Vamco, which made landfall Wednesday night on the east coast of Luzon in Quezon province, swept the central area of the island with sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 255 kph as well as heavy rains, according to Pagasa, the national meteorological agency.
Vamco is expected to leave Philippines territory in the next few hours along the Zambales coast, although it will remain in the Philippine Area of Responsibility until Friday and will cause heavy rains in the provinces of central Luzon, where alert level 3 (out of a total of 5) is maintained.
The capital woke up with heavy and persistent rains and flooding in the slums, a situation that some local media compared to Typhoon Ketsana in 2009, the most devastating typhoon to hit Manila, and which killed 464 people across the country.
In the east of the city, hundreds of families have been evacuated because the Marikina River has reached 21.8 meters, surpassing the mark that Ketsana left in 2009, when severe flooding occurred in the Marikina district with 78 deaths from the rise in water level.
The Angat, Caliraya, La Mesa and Ipo dams – which supply water to the metropolitan area of Manila and its surroundings – have already begun to release water and could overflow, as Pagasa has warned, for which the evacuation of nearby communities has been recommended.
Vamco is the fifth cyclone to hit the country in less than a month, after 50 victims and millions of dollars worth of damage were caused by the last storms.
The regions of Bicol and Calabarzon, south of Luzon, have also suffered the onslaught of Vamco while still recovering from the strong impact of Typhoon Goni – which left 25 dead and six missing – and Typhoon Molave (22 dead and four missing), with accumulated losses in agriculture and infrastructure of about $220 million.
In recent weeks the Philippines has also suffered from severe tropical storm Atsani, which hit the extreme north of the country, and tropical storm Etau, which swept through the same areas of Goni and Molave, although with less force.
After having experienced 21 cyclones so far this year, Pagasa announced on Thursday that the Philippines could suffer from four other tropical storms before the end of 2020, a year especially vulnerable to these phenomenons due to the impact of the La Niña phenomenon.