By Neil Jerome Morales
MANILA (Reuters) – Filipino officials on Saturday ordered the evacuation of thousands of residents in the southern part of the main island of Luzon as the world’s strongest Category 5 hurricane this year reached the Southeast Asian nation.
Hurricane Goni, with 215 kph (133 miles) sustained winds and winds up to 265 kph (164 mph), will make Sunday’s landing the strongest storm to hit the Philippines since Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people. in November 2013.
Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB, had begun evacuation ahead of previous evacuations in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur provinces, while primary Albay provincial authorities will order residents in areas at risk to leave their homes. “The power of this storm is no joke.”;
Typhoon Molave last week killed 22 people, mainly from drowning in the southern provinces of Manila, also in the path of Goni, the country’s 18th tropical storm.
Authorities are facing another setback: the need to impose social distance in evacuation centers to stop the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second highest number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, after Indonesia.
Grace America, mayor of the town of Infanta in Quezon province, said on DZBB, relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment had been deployed in key areas. “But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our funds for disaster concerns and costs are not enough.”
Local officials canceled port operations and banned fishermen from going to sea.
Typhoon Goni, which travels westward at 20 km / h from the Pacific, will bring intense rains over the capital and its 14 neighboring provinces on Saturday night, while also threatening flooding and landslides. .
Another storm, Atsani, is strengthening just outside the Philippines. About 20 storms hit the Philippines each year.
(This story corrects Haiyan’s year to 2013 instead of 2014 in paragraph 2)
(Reported by Neil Jerome Morales; Edited by Michael Perry)