At least seven people were killed yesterday as Typhoon Goni pounded the Philippines, ripping off roofs, toppling power lines and causing flooding in the hardest-hit areas where hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.
The strongest typhoon of the year also triggered deadly landslides that buried a number of houses in the southern part of the most populous island of Luzon, officials said.
Goni was a classified a “super typhoon” when it made landfall on Catanduanes Island before dawn, packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 225kph.
It was downgraded a few hours later as it swept across Luzon and reduced intensity as it headed toward the capital, Manila, where the sprawling city of 12 million was bracing for strong winds in the evening.
“Destructive winds and intense rainfall” were affecting areas in the typhoon’s path, including provinces near the capital, the state weather forecaster said.
At least seven people were killed in Albay province, the Philippine Office of Civil Defense said in a statement.
Several of the victims died in rain-induced landslides of volcanic ash that police said engulfed numerous houses in two adjacent villages near the active Mayon volcano.
“We have recovered three bodies and are looking for three more,” said Major Domingo Tapel, chief of police in the town of Guinobatan.
The roofs of at least two evacuation centers were torn off by the force of the wind, while floods inundated some villages.
“The winds are fierce. We can hear the trees being pummeled. It’s very strong,” Francia Mae Borras, 21, said from her home in the nearby coastal city of Legazpi.
Nearly 400,000 people have fled their homes, most of them to evacuation centers, the Office of Civil Defense said.
Officials in affected areas have reported power cuts, which are disrupting telecommunication services and hampering efforts to assess the extent of the damage.
“Our roads have a lot of debris from the mountains such as branches and sand, some which came from Mayon. Some roads are unpassable,” said Camalig Mayor Carlos Irwin Baldo of his town near Legazpi.
In Manila, the airport was closed and residents were evacuated from low-lying slum areas at risk of being inundated by storm surges.
Thousands of soldiers and police were on standby to help with evacuations and rescue efforts.
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