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More than 150,000 people were riding out a weakening typhoon in emergency shelters in the Philippines on Friday after a mass evacuation that was complicated and slowed by the coronavirus.

Typhoon Vongfong has weakened after slamming ashore into Eastern Samar province Thursday and was blowing northwestward toward the populous main northern island of Luzon, government forecasters said. There was no immediate reports of casualties or major damage as authorities surveyed regions where the typhoon has passed.

The typhoon’s maximum sustained wind has weakened to 125 kilometers per hour (78 miles per hour) with gusts of 165 kph (102 mph) but it remains dangerous especially in coastal areas, forecasters said.

In the northeastern Bicol region, more than 145,000 villagers have fled or were moved by disaster-response teams to dozens of emergency shelters, mostly school buildings, Office of Civil Defense director Claudio Yucot said. Thousands more were evacuated to safety in the outlying provinces of Samar, where the typhoon first blew over, officials said.

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Unlike before, rescuers and volunteers needed to wear face masks and protective suits before deployment and could not transport villagers to emergency shelters in large numbers as a safeguard against the COVID-19 disease,


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