Typhoon Goni — known locally as Rolly — is a category 5 storm with 215 kilometers per hour (133 miles per hour) sustained winds and gusts of up to 265 kph (164 mph). It will make landfall on Sunday as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines since Haiyan 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 the Albay provincial government will order residents in risky areas to leave their homes, Gremil Naz, a local disaster official, told DZBB radio station.
Authorities are facing another hurdle as social distancing needs to be imposed in evacuation centers to prevent the spread of coronavirus. The Philippines has the second-highest number of Covid-19 infections and deaths in Southeast Asia, behind only 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,” she said.
Local officials canceled 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.