Typhoon forces risky evacuations in Philippines

15 May, 2020 12:00 AM printer

MANILA: A powerful typhoon hit the central Philippines Thursday, forcing a complicated and risky evacuation for tens of thousands of people, many of them heading to cramped shelters without proper safety gear to guard against the coronavirus, reports AFP.

Typhoon Vongfong sheared roofs from houses, uprooted coconut trees and dumped heavy rain as it made landfall on the island of Samar, sending locals to emergency shelters. 

Because of the twin threat of the storm and the virus, evacuation centres in the central Philippines said they will only accept half their capacity and evacuees will have to wear facemasks.

Hundreds of thousands live in coastal areas and flimsy homes near where the storm blasted ashore, and tens of millions more on the storm's forecast path that runs near the capital Manila.

"We are trapped in a nightmare situation where we face the threat of the storm as well as COVID," evacuee Mary Ann Encinares said at a shelter, where she and her children had fashioned masks out of handkerchiefs and rubber bands.