Typhoon Goni sweeps through Philippines, at least four dead

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At least four people perished Sunday in the Philippines which was swept by Typhoon Goni, the most powerful of the year, the authorities reporting “catastrophic” conditions in some areas, after evacuating more than 300,000 residents.

The storm made landfall on the island of Catanduanes on Sunday around 5 a.m. local time, accompanied by winds of 225 km / h and gusts measured at 310 km / h which tore up roofs, trees and caused flash floods.

Initially classified in the category of “super-typhoons”, Goni was demoted while traveling on the island of Luzon in the direction of Manila, according to the national meteorological agency.

“Winds of catastrophic violence and intense to torrential rains” are to be expected over the next 12 hours in the regions on the path of the typhoon, and in particular in the provinces near the capital, she warned on Saturday.

“The situation is particularly dangerous in these areas. “

After Molave

Goni arrives a week after Molave, which affected the same region, killing 22 people and flooding a large agricultural region before continuing on its way to Vietnam.

At least four people, including a five-year-old child, were killed in the province of Albay, its governor Alfrancis Bichara announced on local radio.

Two of the victims drowned, a third was swept away by a mudslide and the fourth was killed by a falling tree.

“The winds are strong. You can hear the trees shaking, ”Francia Mae Borras, 21, told AFP from her house on the coast in Legazpi, in the province of Albay.

The roofs of two evacuation centers were blown away and their occupants moved to the ground floor, regional security official Cedric Daep said on a radio.

“Our villages have been inundated by flash floods,” said Carlos Irwin Baldo, mayor of Camalig, near Legazpi.

“The roads are littered with debris from the mountains, branches and sand, some from the Mayon volcano. Some roads are impassable, ”he added.

Airport closed

Civil protection chief Ricardo Jalad said nearly 345,000 people were evacuated.

In Manila, residents of some slums in low-rise areas have been evacuated due to the threat of flooding and the capital’s airport has been closed.

The Council for the Prevention of Natural Disasters issued a warning message that residents received on their mobile phones, advancing against “destructive winds” to be feared in the capital and neighboring provinces.

Thousands of soldiers have been placed on alert to help with evacuations.

Schools, which have been closed since the onset of the pandemic, are used as shelters, as are gymnasiums.

Coronavirus patients who were being treated in tents were also evacuated.

The archipelago officially totals more than 378,000 cases of contamination and 7,100 deaths are attributed to Covid-19. The pandemic is complicating the situation since many emergency resources are mobilized against the coronavirus.

Another typhoon in the making

Mary Ann Echague, 23, her two children, her parents and siblings fled their home in Legazpi to seek refuge in a school where they share a classroom with several other families.

The family, already plagued by previous typhoons, took away a stove, canned meat, instant noodles, coffee, bread, pillows and blankets.

“We fear the power of the typhoon,” she said. “Every time there is a typhoon, our house is damaged because it is made of wood and the roof is made of galvanized iron. “

Several hundred people were stranded after coastguards ordered ferries and fishing boats to stay at the dock, with waves reaching up to 16 meters at sea.

Goni is expected to weaken “considerably” as it crosses Luzon before reaching the South China Sea on Monday morning, according to meteorological services. But another typhoon is building up over the Pacific and is also expected to hit the archipelago.

The Philippines is affected by an average of twenty tropical storms and typhoons each year, which destroy crops, fragile homes and infrastructure, keeping entire populations in permanent poverty.

The worst in recent history was Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed more than 7,300 people, especially in the central town of Tacloban submerged by giant waves.

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