Nearly a million people in the Philippines were evacuated from their homes today as the most powerful typhoon of the year so far barrelled towards the country, with authorities warning of “destructive” winds and flooding.
Typhoon Goni is expected to slam into Catanduanes Island tomorrow morning with wind speeds of up to 205kph before crossing the main island of Luzon, the state weather forecaster said.
It comes a week after Typhoon Molave hit the same region of the natural disaster-prone archipelago, killing 22 people and flooding low-lying villages and farmland, before crossing the South China Sea to Vietnam.
“It looks like we will have really strong winds, increasing the chances of widespread flooding and landslides,” Mark Timbal, spokesman for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, told local broadcaster ABS-CBN.
“Storm surges are imminent on our east coast. We are monitoring Mayon and Taal volcanoes for possible volcanic mud flows.”
Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said “almost a million” people had left their homes in the Bicol region, which includes the southern part of Luzon and Catanduanes.
Authorities spent Saturday marshalling rescue vehicles, emergency response teams and relief goods ahead of the typhoon.
“Violent winds and intense rainfall” are expected that could trigger floods and landslides in an area of more than 20 million people, the weather service said.
There was a “high risk” of storm surges of more than three metres (10 feet) high along parts of the coast, it added.