The strongest storm this year killed at least 16 people in the Philippines, and sent tens of thousands more to evacuation centers, risking COVID-19 infection.
Nearly 458,000 people were evacuated mostly in the main island of Luzon, including 177 COVID-19 patients and more than 400 medical staff from 10 quarantine facilities, the nation’s disaster risk-monitoring agency said in a report yesterday.
Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque, in a televised briefing, asked local officials to ensure social distancing measures are in place in evacuation centers.
Typhoon Goni, the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, slammed the eastern portion of the Philippines on Sunday morning and crossed several provinces including near the capital before heading to the South China Sea.
The Philippines’ 18th storm this year is “the strongest landfalling tropical cyclone in history,” said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections.
The previous record was held by super typhoons Meranti and Haiyan, which hit the Philippines in 2016 and 2013 respectively.
Most of the fatalities were in Albay and Catanduanes provinces south of Manila, some of them swept away by raging waters, according to the region’s disaster risk-monitoring agency.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday afternoon conducted an aerial inspection of typhoon-hit areas, radio DZBB reported.
More than 65 percent of homes in Catanduanes, the province where Goni made landfall, were damaged and electricity and telecommunication lines were still down, its Governor Joseph Cua told reporters.
Six power plants are shut, and together with felled electric posts and damaged transmission lines, 125 cities and towns were left without electricity.
The power outage might lead to problems in the cold management of COVID-19 test kits and specimen, Duque said.
Thirty-three airports, including Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport, were cleared to resume flights at 10am yesterday.
The storm damaged 1.1 billion pesos (US$22.71 million) worth of crops and affected the livelihood of 20,000 farmers, adding to the almost 2 billion pesos in damage when Typhoon Molave hit the country last week.
Goni moved away from the main Luzon Island on Sunday night, but another storm, Atsani, might make landfall in the Philippines later this week, the weather bureau said.
An average of 20 cyclones pass through disaster-prone Philippines every year, which would likely complicate the nation’s fight against COVID-19 as thousands of people remain in cramped evacuation sites.
In 2013, Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people.
“Super Typhoon Goni brings back memories of the devastation caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan,” 350.org Asia Regional Director Norly Mercado said. “In Asia, we are no stranger to intense tropical storms, but now we face a dual threat with COVID-19 and climate change.”
‘SPIKES’: Rudy Giuliani at a hearing asked about voting data in Pennsylvania, with a witness saying that 570,000 votes they selected were for Biden and 3,200 for Trump US president-elect Joe Biden on Wednesday said that Americans “won’t stand” for attempts to derail the US election outcome, as US President Donald Trump called for results to be overturned. Biden said in his hometown of Wilmington, Delaware, that Americans “have full and fair and free elections, and then we honor the results.” “The people of this nation and the laws of the land won’t stand for anything else,” he said. However, Trump is challenging the results, with lawsuits under way in several states. “We have to turn the election over,” he told a hearing in Pennsylvania. “This election was rigged.” “All we need is
Hundreds of flights at one of China’s busiest airports were canceled yesterday as Shanghai raced to bring a local COVID-19 outbreak under control. Health officials have tested thousands of staff at Pudong International Airport since a small cluster of COVID-19 cases in the city was linked to several cargo handlers. China — where the virus first emerged late last year — has largely brought the COVID-19 pandemic under control through travel restrictions and lockdowns, but it is now battling a number of domestic outbreaks in different cities. Shanghai has reported seven local infections linked to the airport this month, with most cases found
For thousands of years, the dainty Fritillaria delavayi has grown slowly on the rocky slopes of the Hengduan mountains in China, producing a bright green flower after its fifth year. The conspicuous small plant has one deadly enemy: people, who harvest the flower for traditional Chinese medicine. As commercial harvesting has intensified, Fritillaria delavayi has vanished — by rapidly evolving to produce gray and brown leaves and flowers that cannot be so easily seen by pickers. Scientists have discovered that the color of the plant’s leaves has become more camouflaged — matching the background rocks on which they grow — in areas where
‘OCEAN OF STORMS’: The Chang’e 5 seeks to collect about 5kg of samples from a previously unvisited area in a massive lava plain, known as Oceanus Procellarum China plans to launch an uncrewed spacecraft to the moon this week to bring back lunar rocks in the first attempt by any nation to retrieve samples from Earth’s natural satellite since the 1970s. The Chang’e 5 probe, named after the ancient Chinese goddess of the moon, would seek to collect material that could help scientists understand the moon’s origins and formation. The mission would test China’s ability to remotely acquire samples from space, ahead of more complex missions. If successful, the mission will make China only the third country to have retrieved lunar samples, following the US and the Soviet Union decades