MANILA: More than 2 million people have been affected by Typhoon Goni, which barreled through the Philippines at the weekend killing 16 people and destroying thousands of houses, with officials saying on Monday they expected the death toll to rise.
Dubbed the world’s strongest storm of 2020, Typhoon Goni slammed into the southern part of Luzon island before dawn on Sunday, damaging more than 10,000 houses in Catanduanes province, one of the worst-affected areas.
“Based on a partial estimate, 10,000 small houses ... (were) totally washed out along the coastal lines that were hit by the typhoon,” Catanduanes Rep. Hector Sanchez said on Monday.
According to the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), 12 regions and 372,653 families comprising more than 2 million people have been affected by the typhoon. More than 5,000 schools are being used as evacuation centers.
During a media briefing at the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) on Monday, Lt. Gen. Hawthorned Binag, Philippine National Police deputy chief for operations, said that officials would be able to gauge the true extent of the damage and fatality count once the communication network was reestablished in
“Up to 90 percent of the infrastructure in Catanduanes has been damaged based on (an) initial assessment by police in the province. Power and communication lines were also down,” Binag said.
Super Typhoon Goni brought violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall when it made its first landfall in the Bicol region, with Sanchez saying it rose as high as 5 meters before weakening into a tropical storm.
NDRRMC executive director and OCD administrator Ricardo Jalad said a telecommunications team had been sent to Catanduanes to establish satellite voice and data communication with the province.
Officials later said they were able to establish first contact with the typhoon-ravaged province.
Provincial governor Joseph Cua said 80 percent of electric facilities, including electrical posts and transformers, were damaged, and that there was currently no water supply. Approximately 15,000 families in the province were affected, he added and appealed to telecom companies to help with the “immediate restoration” of communication lines in the province.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the province for now was “fully dependent” on airlifted assistance.
Albay was another province that bore the brunt of the typhoon, with 300 houses reportedly buried in Guinobatan town.
Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said authorities were addressing the restoration of power to some 8,500 households, as Bicol was without electricity.
The presidential palace said the government was continuing to mobilize resources to assist the affected population and localities, while the UN and the European Union on Monday committed to helping with relief and recovery efforts.
President Rodrigo Duterte convened a cabinet meeting after visiting some typhoon-hit areas in Bicol.