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Duterte orders quick response to typhoon-hit areas

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte

Manila, Nov 15 (UITV/IANS)- Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the creation of an inter-agency task force to streamline the government's response to regions ravaged by typhoon Vamco which has left at least 53 dead.

"I directed them to streamline, to speed up the rehabilitation efforts for those affected by the typhoon," Xinhua news agency quoted Duterte as saying on Saturday during a televised public address.

Duterte said he has already ordered the dispatch of rescue teams from the military and the Philippine Coast Guard to the flooded region in the northern Philippines to help in the ongoing search and rescue efforts.

"They will be working round-the-clock, meaning non-stop," he added.

Duterte said he will dispatch more helicopters if needed to augment the aerial rescue of people stranded on rooftops since Friday night.

Typhoon Vamco barrelled through the Philippines' main island of Luzon from November 11-12, triggering flash floods and landslides in many regions.

Flooding has submerged many regions, turning roads into rivers and trapping thousands of people in homes.

People stranded on rooftops turned to social media to seek rescue.

Floodwaters in Marikina City, Metro Manila and nearby low-lying provinces reached the roofs, forcing people to stay on rooftops for safety. Others waded through the streets to escape the rising waters.

While floodwaters in Metro Manila and nearby low-lying provinces started to subside, pictures and videos of people on rooftops swamped the social media as flood engulfed a big part of Cagayan and Isabela provinces.

Non-stop torrential rains forced operators of dams in Luzon to open the floodgates as the reservoirs' levels breached the spilling marks.

Typhoon Vamco, the 21st cyclone to hit the country this year, lashed a big part of Luzon, home to approximately half of the country's 110 million population and 70 per cent of economic activity.

In 2009, Tropical Storm Ketsana dumped a month's worth of rainfall on Metro Manila and nearby areas in six hours, triggering the worst flooding in the capital in decades.

It killed 464 people.

One of the country's worst, typhoon Haiyan, killed over 7,000 in the central Philippines in November 2013.

Located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, the Philippines is among the most disaster-prone countries in the world, including active volcanoes, frequent earthquakes, and an average of 20 typhoons a year, causing floods and landslides.