Severe tropical storm Ma On, known as Florita in the Philippines, made landfall in Maconacone, Isabela Province at 10:30 am local time, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The meteorological agency said heavy or intense torrential rains are expected to pass through much of northern Luzon – the country’s largest and most populous island – warning of widespread flooding and landslides.
Authorities evacuated more than 540 people to shelters in advance, and flood warnings were issued for the provinces of Zambales, Tarlac, Bataan and Pampanga.
Photos from Pampanga on Monday showed some students spending their first day of school after more than two years of distance learning in flooded classrooms as the storm approached land.
More than 28 million students across the country returned to school on Monday, according to the Department of Education. Plans to lift restrictions put in place in March 2020 have stalled over concerns that the slow roll-out of the vaccine among students and teachers could lead to new outbreaks.
“Prolonged school closures, poor health risk reduction and household income shocks have had the biggest impact on learning poverty, leaving many children in the Philippines unable to read and understand simple text by age 10,” the statement said.
“Vulnerable children, such as children with disabilities, children living in geographically isolated and disadvantaged areas, and children living in areas of natural disasters and conflict, fared much worse.”