MANILA: Philippine officials on Saturday ordered evacuation of thousands of residents in the southern part of the main Luzon island as a Category 5 storm that is the world's strongest this year approaches the Southeast Asian nation. Typhoon Goni, with 215 kph (133 miles) sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph), will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan that killed more than 6,300 people in November 2013.
Pre-emptive evacuations have started in coastal and landslide-prone communities in the provinces of Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur, while Albay provincial government would order residents in risky areas to leave their homes, Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station.
215kphsustained winds of Typhoon Goni, and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph)
"The strength of this typhoon is no joke." Typhoon Molave last week killed 22 people, mostly through drowning in provinces south of the capital Manila, which is also in the projected path of Goni, the 18th tropical storm in the country.
Goni's explosive intensification occurred over the warm waters in the western Pacific Ocean. Its peak winds catapulted from just shy of 100 mph to nearly 180 mph between Thursday and Friday night local time.
Once its peak winds surpassed 150 mph (241 kph), it qualified as a "super typhoon," which is equivalent to a strong Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic. But it grew even more intense, comparable to a strong Category 5.
Its leap in strength occurred over waters about 2 to 3 degrees (1 to 1.5 Celsius) warmer than normal. Such rapid intensification is made more likely by human-caused climate change, which has raised ocean temperatures globally.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center in Pearl Harbor described Goni as "a compact but very powerful system." On weather satellite, it displayed a sharply defined eye and near-perfect symmetry, characteristic of the most intense tropical cyclones.
Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centres to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second highest COVID-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, next only to Indonesia.
Relief goods, heavy machinery and personal protective equipment are already positioned in key areas, Filipino Grace America, mayor of Infanta town in Quezon province, told DZBB radio. "But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, our funds for calamity concerns and expenses are insufficient." Local officials cancelled port operations and barred fishers from setting sail.
Typhoon Goni, moving westward at 20 kph (12 mph) from the Pacific Ocean, will bring intense rains over the capital and 14 provinces nearby on Saturday evening, and threats of floods and landslides. Another typhoon, Atsani, is gaining strength just outside the Philippines. Around 20 typhoons hit the Philippines every year.
Vietnam troops hunts for survivors after typhoon kills 31
HANOI: Vietnam was on the hunt for survivors on Thursday after landslides triggered by Typhoon Molave, one of its strongest storms in decades, lashed a central region already reeling from weeks of heavy rains that have killed at least 160 people.
Hundreds of troops with heavy equipment were deployed to the sites of the landslides in remote areas of Quang Nam province, where 19 people were killed and 48 were missing, with early rescue efforts hampered by bad weather at the tail end of the storm.
The bodies of 12 fishermen were found at sea on Thursday and the navy was searching for 14 others missing since their boats sank while trying to come ashore two days earlier, state broadcaster VTV reported.
At least 160 people have died and scores more were still missing, mostly in landslides, as a result of a succession of storms which have hammered Vietnam since early October.
"We can forecast the storm path or the amount of rain, but can't predict when landslides happen," Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung said in a statement.
"The road is covered under deep mud and heavy rains are still lashing the area, but rescue work has to be carried out quickly." More than a million people have been impacted for weeks by the storms, which have caused heavy rains and some of the worst flooding in years in central Vietnam, pushing relief agencies to their limits.
Molave hit the Philippines at the weekend and deaths there from mudslides and floods rose to 22 on Thursday. It damaged 56,000 homes in Vietnam and left millions without electricity, with heavy rain expected in the central region until Saturday.
The typhoon weakened to a tropical depression after making landfall on Wednesday and by Thursday afternoon, the skies over the worst affected areas had cleared, VTV said, helping rescue efforts. Images on social media showed villages overwhelmed by flooding, and roads filled with debris, toppled trees or blocked by landslides.