Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered government agencies to hasten relief efforts after a powerful typhoon killed at least seven people and unleashed some of the worst flooding in years in the capital Manila.
Mr Duterte cut short his attendance of a virtual meeting of South-East Asian leaders on Thursday to inspect the damage from Typhoon Vamco, moments after a speech during which he urged his counterparts to urgently combat the effects of climate change.
The typhoon, the eighth to hit the Philippines in the past two months and 21st of the year, forced residents to scramble onto rooftops to await rescue after tens of thousands of homes were submerged.
Those killed across the main island of Luzon, home to half of the country’s 108 million population, included people who drowned, an elderly man hit by a tree and three workers crushed when a warehouse collapsed.
It struck areas still reeling from Goni, the most powerful typhoon in the world this year, which killed 25 people and destroyed thousands of homes earlier this month.
“Rest assured, the government will not leave anybody behind,” Mr Duterte said in a national address, pledging shelter, relief goods, financial aid and counselling.
Nearly 200,000 people were moved before Vamco arrived late on Wednesday packing winds of 155km/h and gusts of up to 255km/h.
It has since weakened and exited the mainland.
Mr Duterte told South-East Asian leaders the devastation of recent weeks was “a stark reminder of the urgency of collective action to combat the effects of climate change”.
Nearly three million households in and around Manila were without power as people waded through floods, carrying valuables and pets.
Coastguards swam through brown floodwater as high as electricity poles in some areas, while rescue workers used rubber boats and makeshift floats to move children and the elderly to safety.
The typhoons have battered the Philippines as it faces an uphill struggle to breathe life into its withering economy while keeping coronavirus infections under control.
Residents posted images on social media of flooded homes and the disaster agency said parts of 36 cities and towns were inundated.
Vamco was headed towards Vietnam, where devastating floods and mudslides over the past month have killed at least 160 people in central areas.