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Cagayan submerged in its worst flood in history, Typhoon “Vamco” (Ulysses) death toll rises to 67 – Philippines

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Typhoon "Vamco" (locally called Ulysses) has left a total of 67 fatalities, 13 others missing, and more than 1.7 million affected after lashing the Philippines, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) update released on Sunday, November 15, 2020. A state of calamity has been declared in the Cagayan Valley as the province has been submerged in its worst flooding in history.​

In the NDRRMC's situational report on Sunday afternoon, it was reported that a total of 428 657 families or 1 755 224 people in Regions I, II, III, V, CALABARZON, MIMAROPA, NCR, and CAR have been affected by Vamco.

Of these, 85 357 families or 324 617 persons are being accommodated in 2 991 evacuation centers, while 52 574 families or 231 701 people are being served outside shelters.

The NDRRMC estimated damage to agriculture at about 1.2 billion pesos or 24.7 million dollars, and damage to infrastructure at about 470 million pesos or 9 million dollars. The figures are expected to rise as authorities are still assessing the extent of the destruction.

The death toll has risen to 67 while 21 others were injured and 13 others remain missing in regions II, V, CALABARZON, and CAR. Most of the fatalities occurred in the Cagayan Valley, which has been engulfed in its biggest and worst flooding in history, the provincial information office said in a statement. 

Given the dire situation, the provincial board has approved the recommendation of governor Manuel Mamba to declare a state of calamity on Saturday, November 14.

According to governor Manuel Mamba, water from other provinces and water released from the Magat Dam that flowed toward the area caused the flood.

"Right now, Cagayan looks almost like an ocean," said Mamba. "It's almost its third day but the waters are still high." 

PAGASA hydrologist Ed Dela Cruz explained that Ulysses had a large rain band that reached up to the province, and that rainfall is entering the expansive basin.

NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal, on the other hand, said the widespread flooding was not due to the release of water from Magat Dam, but the swelling of the Cagayan River. 

"These flooding incidents are the cumulative effects of the continuous rains experienced in Luzon," he said, adding that there has been "more than a month's worth of rainy days," to at least five successive tropical cyclones that hit Luzon.

Vamco rapidly re-strengthened in the South China Sea and peaked as a Category 4-equivalent typhoon briefly before weakening back into a Category 3-equivalent storm heading for Vietnam.

On Sunday morning, Vamco has made landfall over Central Vietnam, which is still reeling from the aftermath of previous storms. It is the 22nd named storm of the 2020 Pacific typhoon season and the 10th typhoon.

Featured image credit: DPWH Cagayan Valley

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