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Philippines evacuates hundreds of thousands as typhoon makes landfall

epa08421179 Citizens take shelter inside an evacuation center as Typhoon Vongfong makes landfall in the town of Can-avid, Eastern Samar province, the Philippines, 14 May 2020. The typhoon reached the Eastern Samar province as the Southeast Asian country continues to implement a nationwide lockdown prompted by the ongoing pandemic of the COVID-19 disease caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. EPA-EFE/JEROME PEDROSA BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE
By Reuters
14 May 2020 0

MANILA, May 14 (Reuters) - Philippine authorities started moving 200,000 people away from their homes in coastal and mountainous areas because of fears of flooding and landslides as a typhoon made landfall on Thursday, disaster officials said.

Typhoon Vongfong, the first to hit the country this year, slammed into the eastern Philippines packing winds of 155 kph and gusts of up to 190 kph, the state weather bureau said.

Social distancing measures to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus are likely to complicate efforts to move thousands of people into evacuation centres, such as classrooms and school gymnasiums.

Provincial disaster officials said they had asked the education department for more schools they could use as temporary shelters.

The Philippines has reported more than 11,000 cases of the new coronavirus, most in the capital Manila, and more than 700 deaths.

Authorities told people in areas in the path of the Category 2 typhoon to brace for intense rain and to be on alert for landslides, storm surges and floods.

An average of 20 typhoons a year hit the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands. (Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema)

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