Typhoon Goni turns north, leaving nine dead in Philippines

In the Philippines' Cordillera mountain region, Goni brought as much rain in one night as they average in a month, said officials.

Courtesy of Japan's National Institute for Infomatics
This satellite image, taken Saturday, Aug. 22 at 600 UTC, shows typhoon Goni over the Philippines and Taiwan, and the larger typhoon Atsani, still well east of Japan.

The death toll in the Philippines from Typhoon Goni rose to nine after five more people were buried by landslides in mountainous areas, officials said on Saturday.

Packing gusts of up to 115 miles per hour, Goni was estimated to be 65 miles east-northeast of Batanes, the northernmost province in the Philippines, and moving at 8 mph toward southern Japan.

Japanese astronaut Kimiya Yui, currently on the International Space Station, posted this photo of Goni on Wednesday:

Weather forecasters said Goni has turned sharply north, and is projected to pass east of Taiwan and make landfall in southern Japan by Tuesday, and may curve west toward mainland China and the Korean peninsula by Thursday.

Goni has lost some energy and is now equivalent to a Category 2 hurricane, said the Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The Pacific Disaster Center noted that it is still producing 30-foot waves.

In Manila, some workplaces and schools have been closed because of rainfall. Storm alerts were lifted in some of the Philippines' northern provinces.

"There was a new landslide early this morning, which buried some houses," Nestor Fongwan, governor of Benguet province, told radio stations. "We've pulled out four bodies."

In Baguio City, capital of the Cordillera mountain region, the amount of rain overnight exceeded the average volume for the whole month, disaster officials said.

Alexander Pama, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said nearly 1,000 Filipinos had been displaced by landslides and floods in the north.

In some areas, shipping was suspended, flights grounded and roads closed by floods, landslides, toppled power lines and uprooted trees.

Soldiers have been clearing roads to speed up delivery of food, drinking water, and other vital supplies, Pama said.

An average of 20 typhoons a year pass through the Philippines. The most deadly and destructive, Haiyan, killed more than 6,300 people and displaced millions in November 2013. "Overall, it affected 14 million people across nine regions – 14 percent of the country's total population," reported The Christian Science Monitor's Michael Holtz

Mr. Holtz described progress a year after Haiyan's destruction:

Aid groups and humanitarians across the world have praised the ongoing recovery from typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, which many say has largely delivered on its promise to "build back better" in the year since the massive storm hit.

[...] The Philippines government estimates the typhoon caused $12.7 billion in damages. Its record winds and near tsunami-like storm surge damaged or destroyed 1 million homes and wiped out 33 million coconut trees, a source of income for many Filipinos.

[...] "We are humbled by the extraordinary resilience of the Filipino people," Luiza Carvalho, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in the Philippines, said Thursday. "Despite the unprecedented destruction and tragedy that struck," Ms. Carvalho said, Filipinos pushed through "to this point where recovery is well underway." 

(Editing by Andrew Roche)

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