MANILA – Emergency teams, supported by the Philippine police and military, prepared on Saturday for Typhoon Goni, which officials expect to be the strongest storm to hit the country this year.
Goni, which had winds of 135 mph at its center and gusts of 165 mph as of Saturday afternoon, is expected to weaken slightly before landing in the southern part of Luzon, the most populous island in the country, on Sunday morning. Filipino officials said. On Saturday before, the Joint Typhoon Warning Center classified the storm as a super typhoon.
The Eye of the Storm, which Filipino officials call Typhoon Rolly under their own naming system, was supposed to pass near Metro Manila, the capital region that is home to more than 24 million people.
“We predict widespread destruction, even if it doesn’t turn out to be a super typhoon,” Ricardo Jalad, head of the government’s National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, said on state television on Saturday.
Goni will be the 18th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year. It arrives just days after Typhoon Molave, which was weaker, disrupted the country, caused heavy rains and caused significant flooding. Molave killed 22 people and forced the evacuation of tens of thousands before moving on to Vietnam, where fatal landslides ensued.
Mr Jalad said evacuations in Goni-threatened areas have been underway since Friday. He said local officials could order evictions if necessary.
“If they see their constituents at risk, they can use the Philippine National Police and other uniformed services to evict them,” Jalad said. He said there were “avoidable losses” during Typhoon Molave because some people ignored warnings to stay inside.
The Philippine Red Cross has deployed ambulance vehicles, first aid volunteers and emergency teams in areas across Luzon likely to be hit by the typhoon.
“This month alone, three storms have hit the country in a row, and now a potential super typhoon is heading for us,” said Senator Richard Gordon, chairman of the Red Cross. “We are determined to do everything we can to help these communities prepare for the storm ahead,” he said.
He said the disasters made it difficult for the country to respond to Covid-19, which infected more than 370,000 people in the country and killed 7,185 people. Evacuation centers can make social distancing more difficult than usual.
The Philippine military said it had deployed forces in areas expected to be hit by the typhoon, which could trigger heavy to intense rains over much of Luzon, including Metro Manila.
The Philippines is hit by at least 20 tropical storms and typhoons each year, some of which are fatal. Thousands were killed in November 2013 when super typhoon Haiyan pierced the central Philippines.