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Typhoon Goni: Philippines hit by year’s most powerful storm

Typhoon Goni is barreling across the Philippines, bringing with it “catastrophic” winds and rain. At least seven people have died amid reports of storm surges, flash floods, power outages and blown-off roofs.

Goni made landfall as a super typhoon at Catanduanes island on Sunday at 04:50 local time (19:50 GMT Saturday) packing winds of 225km/h (140mph).

It has since weakened, but is still wrecking damage across the main Luzon island, home to the capital Manila.

Mark Timbal of the Philippines’ national disaster agency said that 19 million people may have been affected by the path of Goni. “This 19 million already includes the populations in danger zones for landslides, flooding, storm surges and even a lava flow,” he told the BBC.

Goni – known as Rolly in the Philippines – is the most powerful storm to hit the country since Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in 2013.

The BBC’s Howard Johnson in Manila says there is concern for the small town of Virac on Catanduanes island, home to some 70,000, where contact has been lost since Goni made landfall.

Video footage showed storm surges through coastal towns, and local governors spoke of power supply outages, roofs torn off evacuation centres, damage to infrastructure, flash flooding and blocked roads.

Seven people, including a five-year-old child in Albay province, are reported to have died; two drowned, another was swept away by volcanic mud and another killed by a falling tree.

“The winds are fierce. We can hear the trees being pummeled. It’s very strong,” Francia Mae Borras, 21, told AFP from her home in Albay’s coastal city of Legazpi.

Forecasters on Sunday morning had warned of “catastrophic violent winds and intense to torrential rainfall” as Goni made landfall in eastern Luzon. By Sunday evening, Goni was moving westward at 25km/h, with maximum sustained winds of 125km/h, forecasters said.

(Source: BBC News)

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