MANILA — (UPDATED) A weakened Typhoon Goni (local name: Ineng) was headed towards Japan on Sunday, after battering Northern Luzon leaving at least 10 dead, and causing thousands of people to be evacuated off Taiwan’s east coast.
On Sunday morning, Goni, packing gusts of 170 kilometers per hour, was located 360 kilometers from the Philippines’ northernmost Batanes islands, moving northeast at 17 kilometers per hour, the Philippines government weather station said.
The Philippines was hit hardest by the storm, which triggered landslides and floods, killing at least 10 people and leaving 17 missing in Northern Luzon.
“Pre-emptive evacuations have been conducted in most of the area but sad to note, some of the areas did not do a pre-emptive (evacuation) and some did real-time evacuation when the event was already starting to happen,” said Alexander Pama, the country’s civil defense chief.
The 17 people missing were from a small mining community that was buried by landslides, police in the area said.
Although the Philippine weather station said most of the danger had now passed, 40 evacuation centers are still operational with over 4,000 people housed inside, said Tess Briones, disaster response chief at the social welfare department.
In Ilocos Norte, an island town in the middle of a river had its bridge destroyed, leaving about 730 families stranded, officials said.
The storm is the ninth out of an average of 20 that hit the Philippines each year.
Goni weakened as it moved northwards off Taiwan’s east coast, but the authorities warned of heavy rainfall with particular concern for areas left damaged and waterlogged by Typhoon Soudelor earlier this month.
Thousands were evacuated from outlying islands and mountainous areas as a precaution, including 1,500 from the hot spring region of Wulai just outside Taipei, which was devastated by Soudelor.
Wulai residents had piled large sandbags along the river to prevent flooding, with the area already receiving 130 millimeters of rainfall in the last two days as Goni approached.
Some have been unable to return home since Soudelor due to blocked roads.
“We all would love to go home as early as possible,” one evacuee from a tiny village in Wulai, who gave her name as Yukyu, told AFP Sunday.
She is one of 80 Wulai residents who have been living in a temporary shelter in Taipei for more than two weeks, bedding down on the floor in sleeping bags.
“But any further rains could trigger landslides,” she said.
Ahead of the typhoon, 1,700 tourists were also evacuated from outlying tourist destinations, bringing the total number of evacuees to almost 4,000.
Authorities warned people not to visit coastal areas due to towering waves.
By Sunday afternoon, however, some evacuees were returning home as the storm moved away from Taiwan and there were no reports of serious damage.
“The radius of the storm slightly contracted… and the trend is expected to go on,” the Central Weather Bureau said in a statement.
Goni was expected to move near a remote Japanese island chain called the Sakishima Islands by Sunday evening, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The agency has issued high wave and strong wind warnings for the islands which are part of Okinawa prefecture.
The storm is expected to move toward Japan’s main islands in the coming days.
Source: ABS-CBN News, PH