Manila, May 15 (IANS) Vongfong, the first typhoon of the season, has ravaged several islands of the Philippines, making landfall six times in the first 24 hours of its passage through the country and ahead of its expected arrival in Manila on Friday.
The typhoon is bringing with it destructive winds and intense rainfall, according to the latest bulletin of the weather service PAGASA.
The Met Office issued a tropical cyclone wind signal number 3, the third-highest on a scale of 1 to 5, in the southern provinces of Luzon Island and level 2 in the central region, where the Manila metropolitan area is located, reports Efe news.
Vongfong weakened slightly after making six landfalls with high-velocity winds and gusts that left the provinces of Samar Norte and Sorsogon without power and communication.
The Met Department recorded winds up to 125 kph speed and gusts between 165-180 kph on Thursday.
Despite weakening slightly, the typhoon’s wind speed may be fatal as it approaches Manila, a megacity where a quarter of its 13 million inhabitants live in overcrowded slums.
The typhoon, locally dubbed Ambo, entered the Philippines on Thursday through the town of San Policarpio on Samar Island, where some 400,000 people live in low-lying, coastal areas that are especially vulnerable to the passage of the storm, whose strength is equivalent to that of a Category 4 hurricane.
Vongfong is moving at a speed of 15 kph as it heads towards the northern Philippines, which it is expected to leave for Japan on May 18.
The Philippines is hit by between 15 and 20 typhoons each year during the rainy season, which usually begins in May or June and ends in November or December.
In November 2013, Haiyan, one of the most powerful typhoons ever to hit the Philippines, caused 6,300 deaths, with more than 1,000 people missing and 14 million affected.