A super typhoon hit the eastern Philippines, causing “catastrophic” winds and heavy rains as about a million people were evacuated on their planned route, including in the capital, Manila, where the main international airport was closed.
“There are so many people who are really in vulnerable areas,” said Ricardo Jalad, head of the government’s civil protection agency, on Sunday. “We expect great damage.”
Typhoon Goni hit the island province of Catanduanes at dawn with sustained winds of 225 km / h and gusts of 280 km / h – equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. It blew west towards densely populated regions, including Manila, and rain-soaked provinces, who are still recovering from a typhoon that hit a week ago, leaving at least 22 dead.
“Catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rains associated with the eye wall region and the typhoon’s inner rainbands will occur within the next 12 hours,” the Philippine Meteorological Agency said in an urgent note.
Catanduanes and four other provinces are the first to hit, including Albay, where tens of thousands of villagers have been brought to safety, particularly near the active Mayon Volcano, where mud streams have caused deaths in past storms. Residents have been warned of the likely landslides, significant flooding, storm surges in excess of five meters, and violent winds that can blow away shanties.
According to the civil protection authority, between 19 and 31 million people could be affected, even in danger zones.
Coastal community residents evacuate in Manila, Philippines on Sunday November 1, 2020 [Aaron Favila/AP]“The winds are strong. We can hear the trees being felled. It’s very strong, ”21-year-old Francia Mae Borras told AFP news agency from her home in the coastal town of Legazpi in Albay province.
The roofs of two evacuation centers were torn off by the force of the wind and the inmates moved to the ground floor, Cedric Daep, head of public security for Albay province, told DZBB radio station.
Feel the beat of the super typhoon #RollyPH in Brgy. San Roque in Daraga, Albay. It was recorded by Saturn Lorena from Daraga parish at 8:30 p.m.
Signal No. 5 in the province of Albay. Be careful family members. pic.twitter.com/PZ6W7UldsT
– ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) November 1, 2020
The rushing river bared the people of brgy. Ilawod in Camalig, Albay at 8:40 am due to the devastation of the #RollyPH super typhoon. | (Photo by Loren Jay Miraran) via Jose Carretero pic.twitter.com/UwMGNpMnXu
– ABS-CBN News (@ABSCBNNews) November 1, 2020
“We fear the wrath of the typhoon.”
Goni, one of the most powerful typhoons in the world this year, has brought back memories of Typhoon Haiyan in November 2013, in which more than 7,300 people died and went missing, entire villages flattened, ships swept inland and more than five million in the central Philippines were evicted.
Goni follows Typhoon Molave, which killed 22 people in the Philippines last month, mostly from drowning in provinces south of Manila.
Jalad, head of the civil protection agency, said nearly a million people were preventively taken to shelters, mostly to schools and government buildings. He warned of storm surges that could inundate coastal villages, including Manila Bay.
Forecasters said the eye of the typhoon could hit or graze metropolitan Manila, the densely populated capital city region of more than 13 million people, late Sunday through early Monday, urging the public to prepare for the worst. The typhoon can weaken significantly after reaching the Sierra Madre and then crossing the main northern island of Luzon towards the South China Sea.
Manila’s main airport was closed for 24 hours Sunday through Monday, and airlines canceled dozens of international and domestic flights. The military and national police, as well as the coast guard and fire department, have been put on alert.
Mary Ann Echague, 23, and her family fled their home in Legazpi to an inland elementary school on Saturday, where they took shelter in a classroom with several other families.
“We fear the wrath of the typhoon,” said Echague, who was with her two children, parents and siblings. They had brought a portable stove, canned meat, instant noodles, coffee, bread, blankets, and pillows.
“Every time we are hit by a typhoon, our house is damaged because it’s made of wood and galvanized ice,” she said.
Residents crowd into a grocery store to buy essential goods in Legaspi, Albay province, south of Manila, ahead of Typhoon Goni landing on Oct.31, 2020 [Charism Sayat/AFP]Officials said evacuations were made difficult because of the coronavirus pandemic
Around 1,000 COVID-19 patients have been brought to hospitals and hotels from tent quarantine and treatment centers in the capital and northern Bulacan province, according to the civil protection agency. More emergency shelters than usual would be opened to avoid traffic jams that can quickly lead to infections.
Martial typhoon preparations will continue to strain government resources, which have been depleted by months of coronavirus outbreaks that prompted the government to set up isolation and treatment centers when hospitals were overwhelmed and provide aid to more than 20 million poor Filipinos.
The Philippines has reported more than 380,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases, the second highest in Southeast Asia with 7,221 deaths.
The Philippines are lashed by around 20 typhoons and storms each year. It is also located in what is known as the Pacific Ring of Fire, a seismically active region around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are common, making the impoverished Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 million people one of the most disastrous in the world. susceptible.