24 dead after Typhoon Goni batters Philippines
The most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines this year destroyed tens of thousands of homes and killed at least 20 people, as communications to the worst-hit areas remained cut off. At 20h50 UTC on 31 October 2020, Typhoon Goni made its first landfall in Catanduanes Island at peak intensity, bringing violent, catastrophic winds to areas near the eye of the storm. At least 24 people have died from the typhoon. Around 125 cities and towns were left without electricity after the storms passing. 1 612 893 individuals over six regions were affected by the typhoon. Around 16 900 hectares of cropland were damaged, affecting some 18 000 farmers. It is estimated that 66 000 metric tons of rice, corn, and other high value crops were damaged. Catanduanes Island and nearby Albay Province on the most populous island of Luzon bore the brunt of Typhoon Goni, which was packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 225 kilometres per hour when it slammed into the east coast. Ferocious winds and torrential rain toppled power lines, triggered flooding and sparked landslides that engulfed houses as Goni swept across the southern part of Luzon. It lost intensity as it skirted the sprawling capital of Manila and headed out to the South China Sea. Across the areas in Goni's path, more than 20 000 houses were destroyed and around 58 000 partially damaged, Philippines Civil Defence reported.
“We are horrified by the devastation caused by this typhoon in many areas including Catanduanes Island and Albay. Up to 90 percent of homes have been badly damaged or destroyed in some areas. Fourteen deaths were recorded in Albay province but provincial disaster chief, Cedric Daep, said without pre-emptive evacuations “thousands would have died”. “We have extensive damage to infrastructure and housing. Many people are hungry. They had already suffered from COVID due to the loss of jobs and dislocation. Some don't even have kitchen utensils,” Daep added. Seven of the victims were in a town that was hit by a landslide of volcanic ash from the nearby active Mayon Volcano.
According to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting, the storm would hit Da Nang and Phu Yen provinces on 5 November 2020. On 3 November 2020, just two days before the expected landfall, the only preparations done were to institute a no-sail policy within the storm's path which affected about 50 000 fishing boats. The following day, Quang Ngai People's Committee Chairman Dang Van Minh asked those living in landslide-prone areas to evacuate, while the National Committee for Disaster Prevention and Search and Rescue mobilised more than 64 500 people and 1 718 vehicles for rescue operations.
The mayor of Guinobatan told local media that around 147 homes had been swamped and some were now unliveable. Goni was ranked as a “super typhoon” when it made landfall on Catanduanes where at least six people died and authorities estimate most houses and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed. “We are severely affected here,” provincial Governor Joseph Cua told a government briefing. Most of the island's power lines were damaged in the typhoon and reports from towns were only trickling in, suggesting the toll could rise. “We're hoping aid will arrive soon. We are short on funds,” added Cua. “We never experienced flood raging so fast.”
This typhoon has smashed into people's lives and livelihoods on top of the relentless physical, emotional and economic toll of COVID-19,” Philippines Red Cross chief Richard Gordon said. Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes ahead of the typhoon and many of them remain in evacuation centres as authorities scramble to restore power and telecommunications services in the hardest-hit areas.
Clean-up efforts were under way with residents removing sodden furniture and other belongings from their houses as they shovelled out mud and debris after heavy rains inundated towns.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.
Its deadliest on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which unleashed giant waves on the central city of Tacloban and left more than 7 300 people dead or missing in 2013.
Source: The Jakarta Post, Al Jazeera, BBC