Philippines Prepares As Powerful Typhoon Goni Bears Down
The Philippines is bracing as Typhoon Goni, this year's most powerful storm, bears down on the country's largest island.
Forecasters with the U.S. Military's Joint Typhoon Warning Center expect Goni to make landfall on Luzon early Sunday with maximum sustained winds of more than 130 mph, equivalent to a Category 4 hurricane. By early Sunday local time, the typhoon — known locally as Rolly — reached maximum wind speeds surpassing 190 miles an hour, making it the most powerful storm of the year so far.
Ahead of the storm's arrival, officials begin issuing evacuation orders. Nearly a million residents have been evacuated ahead of the storm.
The international airport in Manila announced it would be closed for 24 hours starting Sunday, according to The Washington Post.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration is predicting destructive typhoon strength winds and life-threatening storm surges of more than 9 feet that can cause damaging coastal inundation. The forecast also call for heavy rains which can create flooding and landslides.
Multiple outlets call Goni the most powerful storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 left more than 6,000 people dead. Goni is also projected to follow the trajectory of Typhoon Molave, which killed 22 people in the Philippinnes last week, Reuters adds.
Goni bears down as the Philippines reports some of the highest COVID-19 cases in the region. Johns Hopkins University tracks more than 380,000 cases and 7,200 deaths, putting it behind Indonesia for most cases in southeast Asia.
"We are having a hard time with COVID-19, and then here comes another disaster," said Philippines Sen. Christopher Go, the top aide of President Rodrigo Duterte, the BBC reports.
The BBC adds officials announced plans to relocate some 1,000 COVID patients currently sheltered in large isolation tents in and near Manila to hospitals and hotels.
Health officials planned to screen for COVID-19 symptoms in evacuation shelters, the Post reported.
The Joint Typhoon Warning Center says that Goni will weaken before tracking south of Manila and into the South China Sea. As it weakens further, the storm is predicted to make its second landfall in central Vietnam.
According to Reuters, an average of 20 typhoons hit the country every year.
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