Vamco gains strength as authorities shift more than 12,000 villagers to evacuation centres.

Philippine army officers assist residents during a pre-emptive evacuation order, ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vamco in Buhi, Philippines, November 10, 2020.
Philippine army officers assist residents during a pre-emptive evacuation order, ahead of the landfall of Typhoon Vamco in Buhi, Philippines, November 10, 2020. (Reuters)

A typhoon has blown closer to a northeastern Philippine region still struggling to recover from a powerful storm that left a trail of death and destruction just over a week ago, officials have said, adding that thousands of villagers were being evacuated again to safety.

Typhoon Vamco gained strength with sustained winds of 135 kilometeres per hour and gusts of up to 165 kph before it was forecast to slam ashore into the Polillo Islands in Quezon province on Wednesday night or early on Thursday.

More than 12,000 villagers were moved to evacuation centres on Wednesday and about 50,000 people living in the typhoon's path would be ordered to leave their homes, said regional Civil Defense spokesman Gremil Alexis Naz.

Quezon and outlying provinces have hardly recovered from the devastation wrought early this month by Typhoon Goni, which blew ashore with destructive super-typhoon force but considerably weakened before blowing out in the South China Sea. 

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'Bruised but not broken'

One of the strongest typhoons in the world this year, Goni left more than 30 people dead or missing and damaged or destroyed more than 270,000 houses and shanties, many along with coastal villages, officials said.

"This typhoon will test once more our spirit, bruised but not broken," military chief of staff General Gilbert Gapay said of the approaching typhoon.

Navy, air force, and army forces have remained on high alert from the last typhoon and again deployed disaster-response contingents in high-risk areas ahead of the onslaught, Gapay said in a statement.

With its wide band of rain clouds, Vamco may pass about 50 kilometers north of the capital, Manila, at dawn on Thursday if it doesn't shift course, forecasters said.

READ MORE: In pictures: typhoon brings heavy rains and chaos to north Philippines

Warning of storm surges in Manila

Classes and government work were suspended in the capital and outlying regions on Wednesday. Several international and domestic flights were canceled. 

Seaports were closed and ferry boats and cargo ships were prohibited from venturing out to sea near the typhoon's path, stranding hundreds of commuters, officials said.

Authorities warned of storm surges in Manila and outlying coastal cities, and villages along the coast and low-lying areas were advised to move to safer ground.

The typhoon was expected to dump heavy rain in Manila and nearby provinces as it sweeps across the already-sodden country.

The weather service also warned of flooding, landslides, and storm surges several metres high along with parts of the east coast and in the capital.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes, and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies