Workers in the Philippines continued Thursday to rescue people from some of the worst flooding in years in the capital, Manila, that was triggered by Typhoon Vamco. At least seven people have been killed.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who left a virtual meeting of Southeast Asian leaders early to conduct an aerial inspection of Manila, ordered his government to expedite relief efforts.
Emergency crews have been deployed across the main island of Luzon to rescue tens of thousands of residents trapped in their homes, many of them forced to take refuge on the roofs of their submerged houses. At least three people are reportedly missing in one coastal province.
Officials said nearly 3 million households in and around Manila are without power and that about 40,000 homes were completely or partially submerged in water in the Marikina area. The Philippines disaster agency said parts of 36 towns and cities had been flooded.
Forecasters say Vamco, the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines this year, was carrying maximum sustained winds of 130 kilometers per hour as it passed over Luzon on a path toward the South China Sea.
The arrival of the typhoon comes just days after the Pacific archipelago was devastated by super Typhoon Goni, which destroyed tens of thousands of homes and displaced some 370,000 people after striking Luzon with maximum sustained winds of 225 kilometers per hour, making it the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.
Before he cut short his virtual meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, Duterte called on his counterparts to take urgent action to fight climate change, which scientists have concluded causes more severe weather. The damage caused by the recent storms, Duterte said, is “a stark reminder of the urgency of collective action to combat the effects of climate change.”
The Philippines is also struggling with a rampant outbreak of COVID-19, with more than 400,000 total infections and 7,710 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.