MANILA, Nov. 17 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the cyclone that tore through the Philippines this year has climbed to 73 as recovery efforts continue, the country's national disaster agency said on Tuesday.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said that 24 people were injured and 19 people remain missing from Typhoon Vamco which ransacked the main Luzon Island last week.
Officials said some of the dead were drowned, electrocuted, or hit by trees or collapsed walls.
The agency said the typhoon, which caused severe floods and landslides in many regions including the capital Manila, has affected over 3 million people on the main island of Luzon.
Over 283,000 of the affected people sheltered in over 2,000 government-run evacuation centers, the agency said, adding that the typhoon's fierce winds and torrential rain damaged nearly 40,000 houses.
The estimated damage to infrastructure is pegged at over 5 billion pesos (roughly 108 million U.S. dollars), while damage to agriculture topped 2.7 billion pesos (about 56 million U.S. dollars).
The typhoon hit while the Philippines is grappling with an increasing number of COVID-19 that pushed the country into recession.
The Philippines now has 410,718 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 7,862 deaths.
Officials have voiced concern over the possibility of a virus outbreak in the crowded evacuation centers, citing the difficulty of maintaining a safe distance in the facilities.
"That is what we fear," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who chairs the national task force against COVID-19, told reporters.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to act on the NDRRMC recommendation to place the entire Luzon island under a state of calamity.
Luzon, home to approximately half of the country's 110-million population and 70 percent of economic activity, bore the brunt of Typhoon Vamco, the 21st cyclone to hit the country this year. Enditem