Typhoon Goni, the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines this year destroyed tens of thousands of homes and killed at least 16 people, officials said on Monday.
Catanduanes Island and nearby Albay province on the most populous island of Luzon bore the brunt of Typhoon Goni which was packing maximum sustained wind speeds of 225 kilometres per hour when it slammed into the east coast on Sunday.
Ferocious winds and torrential rain toppled power lines, triggered flooding and sparked landslides that engulfed houses as Goni swept across the southern part of Luzon.
It lost intensity as it skirted the sprawling capital of Manila and headed out to the South China Sea.
“We are horrified by the devastation caused by this typhoon in many areas including Catanduanes island and Albay,” Philippines Red Cross chief Richard Gordon said in a statement.
“Up to 90 percent of homes have been badly damaged or destroyed in some areas. This typhoon has smashed into people’s lives and livelihoods on top of the relentless physical, emotional and economic toll of Covid-19.”
Hundreds of thousands of people fled their homes ahead of the typhoon and many of them remain in evacuation centres as authorities scramble to restore power and telecommunications services in the hardest-hit areas.
Goni was ranked as a “super typhoon” when it made landfall on Catanduanes where at least six people died and authorities estimate most houses and infrastructure were damaged or destroyed.
Most of the island’s power lines were damaged in the typhoon and reports from towns were only trickling in, suggesting the toll could rise.
Across the areas in Goni’s path, more than 20,000 houses were destroyed and around 58,000 partially damaged, Civil Defense said in a statement. Farmland was also damaged.
The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.
Its deadliest on record was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which unleashed giant waves on the central city of Tacloban and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.