Typhoon Ambo pummels COVID-stricken Philippines at 6th landfall

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 15 2020 09:00 AM | Updated as of May 15 2020 12:20 PM

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Typhoon Ambo (international name: Vongfong) hit land for the sixth time on Friday morning and moved south of the capital, as pandemic protocols complicated the evacuation of tens of thousands in coronavirus-stricken Luzon.

The first storm of 2020 made its sixth landfall over San Andres, Quezon at 7:45 a.m., packing maximum sustained winds of 125 kilometers per hour and 165 kph gusts, said the state weather bureau.

At 10 a.m., the storm approached Laguna and Quezon provinces, south of Metro Manila, said PAGASA.

Moderate to heavy with at times intense rains will hit Bicol Region, Quezon, Aurora, Marinduque, Laguna, Rizal, Metro Manila, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, and Quirino, said the agency.

The following areas were placed under signal no. 3, where winds may blow off roofs made of medium strength materials such as timber and galvanized iron:

  • Quezon including Polillo Island
  • Rizal
  • Laguna
  • Southern portion of Aurora (Dipaculao, Maria Aurora, Baler, San Luis, Dingalan)
  • Southern portion of Nueva Ecija (Licab, Quezon, Santo Domingo, Talavera, Llanera, Rizal, Bongabon, General Mamerto Natividad, Aliaga, Zaragoza, San Antonio, Jaen, Santa Rosa, Cabanatuan, Palayan, Laur, Gabaldon, Peñaranda, San Leonardo, Cabiao, San Isidro, Gapan, General Tinio)
  • Eastern portion of Bulacan (San Miguel, San Ildefonso, Dona Remedios Trinidad, San Rafael, Angat, Norzagaray, San Jose Del Monte), the western portion of Camarines Norte (Santa Elena, Capalonga, Jose Panganiban, Paracale, Labo)
  • Extreme western portion of Camarines Sur (Del Gallego, Ragay, Lupi, Sipocot, Libmanan, Cabusao, Pasacao, Pamplona)
  • Marinduque

Signal no. 2, where winds of 61 to 120 kph may damage poorly constructed signs/billboards and down wooden or old electric posts, was hoisted over the following areas:

  • Metro Manila
  • Cavite
  • Batangas
  • Pampanga
  • Tarlac
  • La Union
  • Benguet
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Quirino
  • Rest of Aurora
  • Rest of Camarines Norte
  • Rest of Nueva Ecija
  • Rest of Bulacan
  • Burias Island
  • Eastern portion of Pangasinan (San Nicolas, Natividad, San Quintin, Umingan, Balungao, Sta. Maria, Tayug, Asingan, San Manuel, Binalonan, Laoac, Urdaneta, Villasis, Rosales, Sto. Tomas, Alcala, Bautista, Bayambang, Urbiztondo, Basista, Malasiqui, Sta. Barbara, Manaoag, Mapandan, San Jacinto, San Fabian, Pozorrubio, Sison, Mangaldan, Dagupan, Calasiao, Binmaley, Lingayen, Bugallon, Aguilar, San Carlos, Mangatarem)
  • Western portion of Camarines Sur (Siruma, Tinambac, Calabanga, Bombon, Naga, Magarao, Canaman, Camaligan, Gainza, Milaor, San Fernando, Minalabac, Pili)

Signal no. 1 was raised in the following areas, where rice crops may suffer significant damage and some banana plants may be tilted:

  • Cagayan including Babuyan Islands
  • Isabela
  • Ilocos Norte
  • Ilocos Sur
  • the rest of Pangasinan
  • Apayao
  • Kalinga
  • Abra
  • Mountain Province
  • Ifugao
  • Zambales
  • Bataan
  • Oriental Mindoro
  • Romblon
  • Catanduanes
  • Albay
  • Sorsogon
  • Rest of Camarines Sur
  • Northern portion of mainland Masbate (Aroroy, Mandaon, Balud, Milagros, Baleno, Masbate City, Mobo)
  • Ticao Island.

Ambo earlier made landfall in Eastern Samar, Dalupiri and Capul islands in Northern Samar, and Ticao and Burias islands in Masbate.

Residents wearing masks for protection against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) arrive at a school turned evacuation center as they prepare for Typhoon Vongfong in Legazpi City, Albay province, May 14, 2020. Nino Luces, Reuters

Provincial and city governments, many of which are already strapped for resources due to the outbreak, are grappling with logistical and space issues, with an estimated 200,000 people needing evacuation from flood and landslide-prone areas.

The health department requires a one-meter distance between evacuees.

In Albay, shelters accepted only half their capacity while evacuees in churches were asked to sleep one bench apart to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Hundreds of evacuees in neighboring Buhi, Camarines Sur, were given face masks before they were allowed in the evacuation centers.

Camarines Norte also used COVID-19 resources and re-aligned funds from other projects to feed up to 15,000 evacuees, said incident management commander Atty. Don Culvera.

The storm also knocked down power and communication lines in the whole Northern Samar, where some 10,600 people evacuated, said provincial disaster chief Josh Echano. Authorities, he said, had yet to receive reports of any resident killed or missing due to Ambo.

Moving northwest at 15 kph, Ambo is expected to leave the Philippine area on Tuesday.

-- With a report from Reuters