AT LEAST 16 people died and three more went missing after the world’s strongest typhoon this year battered the Bicol region in eastern Philippines and several other provinces on Luzon island, according to the Office of Civil Defense.
About 373,000 families or 1.5 million people were affected in five regions, while half-a-million people in eight regions were forced to flee to avoid the path of Goni, a super typhoon that weakened after making two landfalls in Bicol on Sunday morning, the local disaster agency said in a report on Monday.
Storm signals were lifted on Monday morning as Goni, locally named Rolly, continued to move away from the Philippines. The state weather bureau said the typhoon was expected to leave the country on Tuesday morning.
About 20 typhoons hit the Philippines from the Pacific Ocean each year. In November 2013, Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck central Philippines, killing more than 7,000 and forcing more than 5 million people to flee after wiping out entire villages.
Goni packed maximum sustained winds of 215 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gusts reaching 295 kph, the weather bureau said on Sunday.
It first made landfall in Bato, Catanduanes early Sunday morning before heading toward Tiwi, Albay. It made a third landfall in San Narciso, Quezon province at noon.
The typhoon damaged 19 road sections and four bridges in five regions after it caused heavy flooding and landslides uprooted trees and power utility posts. Fifteen of the roads and all bridges were still not passable, the Civil Defense office said.
It said 147 cities and municipalities in Bicol, Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Eastern Visayas had experienced power interruptions and failures.
Bacman geothermal power plant units 1 and 3 were put on emergency shutdown earlier as a preemptive measure, while unit 2 was put on house load, the disaster agency said.
Ilijan plant was shut down on Nov. 1 as a contingency measure to avoid damage, while SLPGC 1 was put on emergency shutdown on Oct. 31 due to boiler tube lead, it added.
Before Goni hit land, the Public Works department placed 777 heavy equipment vehicles, 518 tools and 4,931 workers in areas that were likely to be hit. Public Works Secretary Mark A. Villar told an online news briefing on Monday.
The roads that were not passable in the Cordillera Administrative Region included the Claveria-Calanasan-Kabugao road and Apayao-Ilocos Norte road, after the soil collapsed.
In Central Luzon, the Sto. Tomas-Minalin-Macabebe Road and Nueva Ecija-Aurora road remained closed to traffic because of flooding and mudslides. The Catanauan-Buenavista road in Calabarzon remained closed after several trees fell.
Road sections in the Bicol region that were closed to traffic were the Legazpi-Sto. Domingo-Tabaco-Tiwi-Camariñes Sur boundary road; Tabaco Wharf road 1 and 2; Daang Maharlika in Polangui, Albay; Daang Maharlika in Sipocot, Camariñes Sur; and Naga City-Carolina-Panicuasson road.
Also closed were the Manguiring-Sibobo-Cagsao Cabanbanan road; Milaor-Minalabac-Pili road; Lagonoy-Caramoan road; Goa-Tinambak road; San Rafael-Mampirao road; Daang Maharlika Nabua-Poblacion section; Baao-Iriga City-Nabua road; and Iriga City proper and Donsol-Banuang Gurang road. — Norman P. Aquino and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza