More than 350,000 people were evacuated to safety, mainly residents fleeing vulnerable coastal and low-lying areas before the Typhoon Vamco passed hit the Phillipines, toppling power poles and trees and damaging homes.
Thick mud and debris have coated many villages around the Philippine capital after a typhoon caused extensive flooding that sent people fleeing to their roofs and killed at least 39 people.
Thousands of people have been rescued, though waters have mostly receded. The military was rescuing people in places where waters remained high.
Amphibious assault vehicles usually used in counter-insurgency operations were deployed for the rescue work, military chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said in an emergency meeting with disaster-response officials.
“We’ll continue to look for the missing, help in damage assessment,” Gapay said. He reported 39 deaths and 32 other people missing.
'No one will be left behind'
Authorities vowed to distribute food and other essentials to victims, many of whom were still recovering from typhoons Molave and Goni that killed dozens of people, destroyed tens of thousands of houses and knocked out power to swathes of the country in recent weeks.
Defending the response to the latest disaster, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government "acted fast".
"Unfortunately we couldn't do anything about the floodwater which rose too fast...but we made sure no one will be left behind," he said.
Officials said many people had ignored orders to evacuate their homes and were caught by surprise by the fast-rising waters.
Police, soldiers and coast guard were deployed to assist in rescue efforts, using boats to reach thousands of people stranded. The operations were made more complicated by the coronavirus outbreak.
The severity of the flooding in Manila and neighbouring province of Rizal sparked comparisons with the devastation caused by Typhoon Ketsana in 2009 that killed hundreds.
350,000 people evacuated
Typhoon Vamco passed north of Manila between Bulacan and Pampanga provinces overnight Wednesday and early Thursday, toppling power poles and trees and damaging homes.
More than 350,000 people had been evacuated to safety, mainly residents fleeing vulnerable coastal and low-lying areas before the typhoon hit. Philippine National Police said more than 100,000 people had been rescued, including 41,000 in the capital region.
At least 3.8 million households lost power in metropolitan Manila and outlying provinces, but crews have restored electricity in many areas and power was expected to be fully restored in about three days. Government offices were closed and classes suspended for public schools Friday.
Vamco hit the Philippines on the heels of Typhoon Goni, one of the strongest typhoons in the world this year, which left more than 30 people dead or missing and damaged or destroyed 270,000 houses. Tens of thousands of people remain displaced.
The Philippines is hit by about 20 typhoons and tropical storms each year and also had active seismic faults and volcanoes, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.