MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared a state of calamity throughout the island of Luzon, which has been struck by three typhoons in the last month that have killed more than 100 people.
“Last night, I think, I signed the proclamation,” Duterte said during a televised speech on Tuesday night along with other members of his cabinet to address the response to the string of natural disasters.
Typhoon Vamco caused the worst floods in half a century in much of Luzon, the country’s largest island where some 58 million people live.
The typhoon caused 73 deaths and damages worth $165 million while 19 people are still missing.
In the last month, the Philippines has also been hit by typhoons Goni, which left more than 30 people dead or missing, and Molave, which left 26 victims, with accumulated losses in agriculture and infrastructure of about $220 million.
Vamco caused the worst-ever floods in the east of Manila, forcing thousands of people to climb to their roofs to take refuge from the mud and debris.
Two days after the passage of the typhoon, floods swept across the northernmost area of Luzon due to the overflowing of several dams and rivers in the provinces of Cagayan and Isabela.
This week, the Philippine congress announced that it is launching an investigation into the causes of the flooding to determine if there was negligence on part of local and regional authorities in alerting the population of typhoon risks.
The floods caused by Vamco affected more than three million people throughout Luzon, of which 70,784 families still remain in 2,205 evacuation centers and 41,203 are being attended to outside these centers.
More than 40,000 homes across Luzon were damaged, of which 4,473 were completely destroyed, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, which has distributed $1 million among those affected.
In the past month, the Philippines – which is struck by an average of 20 cyclones a year – has also been hit by a severe tropical storm, Atsani, and tropical storm Etau.
After having been struck by 21 cyclones so far this year, the national weather agency, Pagasa, warned that the Philippines could still be hit by another four before the end of 2020, a year when the weather phenomenon known as La Niña has caused more storms to develop in many parts of the world.