MANILA - Nearly 10,000 people were evacuated in Northern Samar after Typhoon Ambo, packing heavy rains and strong winds, made landfall in the country, a disaster official said Thursday.
Rei Josiah Echano, head of the Northern Samar provincial disaster risk reduction and management office, said in an interview around 9,700 people were sent to evacuation centers after Ambo barreled through the province, cutting off electricity and communication in the area.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Echano said evacuees were still made to observe physical distancing and other policies to prevent possible contamination.
"We don't take away those policies para ma-secure 'yung health aspect ng mga evacuees natin (to secure the health aspect of our evacuees)," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
Physical distancing to halt the spread of COVID-19 should be observed in typhoon shelters, Health Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said earlier.
Relief goods have been distributed to the evacuees, Echano said, as the province had prepared for Ambo's onslaught.
The disaster management official said they have to wait for three days to confirm damage that the typhoon has caused across the province.
"We will send out rapid damage assessment team po...papadala po namin ito sa affected areas," he said.
Echano appealed for more relief goods as the number of evacuees is expected to grow due to the typhoon. At least 300,000 people may have to leave their homes, he said.
"Lalaki pa 'to. Malayo pa tayo sa mga projections," he said.
(This will get bigger. We are still far from projections.)
Ambo, the country's first typhoon of the year, made landfall over San Policarpo, Eastern Samar past noon. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour and 190 kph gusts as of 1 p.m., said PAGASA.
The state weather bureau warned that "potentially life-threatening" storm surges 2 to 4 meters high may also hit Northern Samar, Eastern Samar (east coast), Samar (west coast), Sorsogon, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Quezon and Aurora.