Mother Nature is angry this week as natural disasters continue to strike areas of the U.S. For now, the American Midwest combats and endures destruction left by dozens of tornadoes, flash floods, and even earthquakes. Simultaneously, the Philippines face a natural disaster of their own as a powerful typhoon threatens to strike. Already, thousands have been forced to flee their homes.
As per the New York Post, tens of thousands of Philippine residents have already evacuated to the safety of the southern and central regions of the country as the powerful storm approaches. During the early hours of Thursday morning, forecasters reported the typhoon, identified as Typhoon Rai, has sustained winds reaching 115 miles per hour. The storm is accompanied by gusts reaching an intense 143 miles per hour.
According to the outlet, forecasters expect the typhoon to slam into the Dinagat Islands southeast of the country later Thursday. Officials continue to warn citizens to stay away from low-lying villages and other high-risk areas. These could potentially see flash floods, landslides, and tidal surges amid the storm’s approach.
Further, the Southeast Asian country deployed its coast guard ahead of time “in case of contingencies.”
Meanwhile, they’ve also prohibited sea voyages throughout the Philippines’ high-risk regions. That said, the news outlet reports thousands of passengers, ferry and cargo ship workers remain stranded across the country’s southern and central ports.
The typhoon comes amid the Philippines’ latest disaster. Officials have detected the omicron variant of the coronavirus within several of the country’s travelers.
Typhoon Evacuations Complicate COVID-19 Quarantine Efforts
The approaching typhoon poses enough of a threat to the Philippines. However, the ongoing evacuation efforts, while necessary, encroach on the government’s efforts to minimize national COVID-19 infections.
According to the New York Post, while the new omicron variant is highly infectious, it presents in the Southeast Asian country more intensely as the Philippines remain one of the hardest-hit countries affected by the pandemic.
Like many countries, the number of cases has slowly dwindled over the last few months. However, the omicron variant resulted in an alarming spike in cases, especially within the Philippines. It immediately caused government calls for people to avoid crowds and to receive their vaccinations immediately.
Of the evacuation situation, the Philippines’ governor, Ben Evardone, overcrowding would be hard to avoid, the typhoon causing 32,000 citizens to move to relative safety. “It’s impossible to observe social distancing,” Evardone stated. “What we do is cluster evacuees by family. We don’t mix different people in the same place as a precaution.”
Further, the typhoon comes as only one of the latest as the outlet stated the Philippines experience around 20 storms and typhoons annually. Additionally, considering its location on the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” it ranks as one of the most natural disaster-prone nations in the world.