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Typhoon Vongfong Strikes Eastern Philippines

Residents brave rains and strong wind as they walk past uprooted trees along a highway in Can-avid town, Eastern Samar province, central Philippines, May 14, 2020, as Typhoon Vongfong makes landfall.

A strong typhoon struck the eastern Philippines on Thursday while creating complications for authorities trying to evacuate tens of thousands of people already isolated to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

With maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph, Typhoon Vongfong, hit Northern Samar province with high wind and heavy rain.

The Associated Press reports provincial Gov. Edwin Ongchuan has asked for twice the usual number of school buildings to be turned into typhoon shelters to accommodate about 80,000 residents who were being forcibly evacuated from high-risk coastal villages.

Overcrowding in emergency shelters is a common scene in the archipelago hit by about 20 typhoons and storms annually and regularly experiencing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.

The storm is forecast to blow northwestward and barrel across densely populated eastern provinces and cities, including the capital, Manila, before exiting to the north Sunday.

Typhoon Vongfong is the first named storm to hit the Philippines this year.