Super Typhoon Gony makes landfall in the Philippines

Residents fleeing Super Typhoon Goni arrive at an evacuation center in Legazpi south of Manila -- nearly a million people have left their homes ahead of the storm's arrival

Super typhoon Goni hit the Philippines on Sunday and authorities warned that the region is likely to be severely affected by “catastrophic” conditions, where nearly a million people have been evacuated.

The state’s weather forecast said the strongest hurricane of the year landed at Catanduans Island at 4:50 a.m. (Saturday 2050 GMT), with a maximum sustained wind speed of 225 kilometers (140 miles) per hour, the state’s weather forecast said. Is.

In the next 12 hours, “catastrophic violent winds and heavy to very heavy rains” will be experienced in the Bikol area, covering the southern tip of the main island of Luzon and Catanduanes.

“This is a particularly dangerous situation for these areas.”

Goni – which was intensified by a “super” typhoon approaching the Philippines – comes a week after Typhoon Molaw hit the same area of ​​the natural disaster archipelago.

The hurricane killed 22 people and flooded low-lying villages and farmland before reaching the South China Sea in Vietnam.

“It looks like we will have really strong winds, increasing the chances of widespread flooding and landslides,” Mark Timble, a spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told local broadcaster ABS-CBN on Saturday.

“Storm conditions are imminent on our east coast. We are monitoring Mayon and Tal volcanoes for possible volcanic mud flows.”

The head of civil defense, Ricardo Jalade, said “about a million” people had fled their homes in the Bikol area.

Authorities spent Saturday marshalling rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief items before the hurricane arrived.

There was a “high risk” of fatal storms at altitudes of more than three meters (10 feet) in coastal areas, the warning said.

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Hurricanes up to three meters are also forecast in coastal areas of the capital Manila.

– Covid complicates migration –

Schools that have been empty since the coronavirus epidemic began are used as emergency shelters, such as government-run evacuation centers and gyms.

“It is more difficult to evacuate people at this time because of Covid-19,” Alexis Naz, a Bikol regional civil defense spokesman, told AFP.

Marie N. Ich Gueg, 23, and her family fled to a home-based elementary school in the coastal town of Legazpi, where they were taking refuge in a classroom with several other families.

“We fear the wrath of the hurricane,” said Ich said, who lives with his two children, parents and siblings. They took with them a portable stove, tinned meat, instant noodles, coffee, bread, blankets and pillows.

“Every time a storm hits, our house is damaged, because it’s made of wood and galvanized iron roofing,” he said.

“We’ve always managed. We find a way to get through there.”

Hundreds of people have been stranded after the coastguard ordered ferries and fishing boats to be sent to port in anticipation of 16-meter waves off the coast.

Gony is expected to weaken as it enters the South China Sea as early as Monday and into the South China Sea.

The Philippines experiences an average of 20 hurricanes and hurricanes each year, typically clearing crops, homes and infrastructure, leaving millions of people in perennial poverty.

Its record was the worst super typhoon Haiyan, which sent huge waves over the central city of Tacloban and left more than 7,300 dead or missing in 2013.

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