Local authorities evacuate thousands as Typhoon Ulysses approaches

November 11, 2020 - 3:43 PM
Philippine army officers assist residents during a pre-emptive evacuation order, ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vamco in Buhi, Camarines Sur, Philippines, November 10, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. Picture taken November 10, 2020. (Buhi LGU/Mark Nazzarea/via Reuters)

MANILA — Philippine authorities have ordered thousands of residents in eastern coastal communities to evacuate ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Ulysses (International name: Typhoon Vamco) on Wednesday, only weeks after the country was battered by the strongest cyclone so far this year.

“Ulysses,” which carries sustained winds of 125 kilometer per hour (78 mph) and gusts of up to 155 kph, is the 21st tropical storm to hit the Philippines this year.

“We are just 1% into our recovery and then here comes another typhoon. We’re now feeling strong wind and rain,” Joseph Cua, the governor of Catanduanes province, told DZMM radio.

The island province of Catanduanes and nearby Albay, both southeast of the capital Manila, bore the brunt of Super Typhoon Rolly (International name: Goni) in late October, a category 5 typhoon that killed 25 people and left six people missing.

Ulysses is due to make landfall in Polilio Island on Wednesday evening and hit rice-producing provinces north of the capital before exiting the Philippines‘ main island of Luzon on Thursday, Chris Perez, a state weather forecaster, told DZMM.

Residents in coastal communities, who are expecting up to a three-meter (nine foot) storm surge, were ordered to leave their homes, said Cristina Bosque, mayor of Polilio. But ensuring the prevention of the spread of COVID-19 in evacuation centers remained a challenge, she said.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, sees around 20 tropical storms annually.

After lashing the Philippines, Ulysses is forecast to head towards Vietnam. Vietnam’s weather agency is expecting Ulysses to arrive in its central region on Sunday, bringing intense rains.

Floods and mudslides over the past month have killed at least 160 people in central Vietnam, left dozens missing and damaged 390,000 houses, official data showed. —Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales in Manila and Phoung Nguyen in Hanoi; Editing by Ed Davies and Michael Perry