Residents brave rains and strong wind as they walk past uprooted trees along a highway in Can-avid town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines on May 14, 2020, as Typhoon Vongfong makes landfall. - A powerful typhoon hit the central Philippines on May 14, forcing a complicated and risky evacuation for tens of thousands already hunkered down at home during the coronavirus pandemic. Because of the twin threat of the storm and the virus, evacuation centres in the central Philippines will only accept half their capacity and evacuees will have to wear facemasks. (Photo by Alren BERONIO / AFP) (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)

Tens of thousands under lockdown evacuate as Typhoon Vongfong strikes Philippines

Typhoon Vongfong has made landfall in the Philippines, forcing the evacuation of tens of thousands of people in a country under lockdown amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The typhoon struck eastern Samar at around noon local time Thursday. It is the first named storm of the 2020 season in the West Pacific.

Vongfong packed winds of at least 115 mph, an intensity that makes it the equivalent of a category 3 hurricane.

The storm’s violent winds triggered the evacuation of tens of thousands of people, according to Reuters news agency.

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At least 200,000 people live in coastal areas near the area of Samar affected.

The pandemic has complicated the evacuation process in a country frequently struck by typhoons. More than 50 million people in the Philippines are living under strict lockdown rules imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte in an attempt to contain the virus.

The country currently has 11,876 cases of the disease, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

In order to combat its spread, evacuation centers in the central Philippines will only be filled to half capacity, according to Reuters. Evacuees will be expected to wear face masks.

Vongfong is expected to gradually turn northwest and it is likely to weaken over land.

Significant rainfall is expected to continue over parts of the Philippines, including the vast Visayas and Bicol regions and northern Luzon.

The West Pacific typhoon season doesn’t have a defined beginning and end like the Atlantic hurricane season, as storms form in the area throughout the year.

Vongfong’s arrival marks the eighth-latest start to the season since 1950, according to Phil Klotzbach, a research scientist at Colorado State University.

Due to the Philippines’ location in the tropical Pacific, the country is hit by around eight to nine storms in an average year. The typhoon is also named Ambo locally in the Philippines.


Author: Monica Garrett, Brandon Miller and Zamira Rahim, CNN
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