Southeast nation pummelled by sixth storm in five weeks, adding more pain to devastated communities.
The third typhoon to hit the storm-battered Philippines in as many weeks has caused major flooding in the capital Manila, trapping people on rooftops and killing several people in another part of the Southeast Asian archipelago.
Typhoon Vamco packed winds of up to 155 kilometres per hour (96 miles per hour) as it swept across the country’s largest island of Luzon after making landfall overnight on Thursday.
At least 11 people died and nine others were missing, according to disaster agency reports for two regions of Luzon.
Heavy rain effectively shut down Manila, the sprawling capital of 12 million people, and surrounding areas, turning streets into rivers as authorities warned of landslides and potentially deadly storm surges along the coast.
“A lot of places are submerged. Many people are crying for help,” said Rouel Santos, 53, a retired disaster officer in Rizal province, next to the capital.
Santos said the flooding caused by Vamco brought back memories of the devastating Typhoon Ketsana, known in the Philippines as Tropical Storm Ondoy, that hit in 2009 and claimed hundreds of lives.
The Philippine Red Cross, police, military and other rescuers used boats to reach people stranded in their homes in Marikina City, one of the hardest-hit areas of the capital, where the water in some streets was up to shoulder height.
Schools, which have been empty since the start of the coronavirus pandemic in March, are being used as emergency shelters along with gymnasiums. Approximately 180,000 people were in evacuation centres, officials said.
The weather service has warned of life-threatening storm surges along parts of the coast, including in Manila, that could inundate low-lying areas.
Flood warnings were issued for a number of towns north of the capital as authorities released water from fast-filling dams.
President Rodrigo Duterte said in a statement the government was “on top of the situation”, pledging relief funds, goods and shelter for victims as well as post-disaster counselling.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.