Goni leaves 15 dead in Philip­pines

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY JIM GOMEZ

Typhoon Goni blew out of the north­ern Philip­pines on Sun­day, leav­ing at least 15 peo­ple dead and sev­eral oth­ers miss­ing, in­clud­ing in a gold-min­ing vil­lage where more than 100 res­cuers dug through a huge mud­slide in a fran­tic search for a dozen min­ers, of­fi­cials said.

Goni was last tracked at sea about 430 kilo­me­ters (267 miles) north­east of Basco town in Batanes province on the ar­chi­pel­ago’s north­ern­most tip. It has sus­tained winds of 140 kilo­me­ters (87 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 170 kilo­me­ters per hour (105 miles per hour) and was forecast to lash south­ern Ja­pan within 24 hours, gov­ern­ment fore­cast­ers said.

While ap­proach­ing the coun­try’s moun­tain­ous north, Goni dumped heavy rain for three days then bat­tered al­ready-sod­den up­land vil­lages with fierce winds, trig­ger­ing land­slides, of­fi­cials said.

In the hard-hit moun­tain province of Benguet, land­slides killed at least 12 peo­ple, in­clud­ing four gold min­ers who were pulled out of a huge mud­slide that buried three work camps in far-flung Taneg vil­lage in Mankayan town. A dozen min­ers re­main miss­ing and more than 100 po­lice­men and fel­low min­ers dug through the muddy heap Sun­day amid fad­ing hope that sur­vivors would be found, of­fi­cials said.

Benguet Gover­nor Nestor Fong­wan said days of pound­ing rain and a swollen creek sat­u­rated a moun­tain slope, which cas­caded down the gold- min­ing area at dawn Satur­day.

“They were sleep­ing when a huge chunk of the moun­tain came down and buried their work sites,” Fong­wan said by phone. “We’re still hop­ing that we’ll find survi- vors. We’re still call­ing it a search and res­cue op­er­a­tion.”

Three peo­ple died else­where in the north af­ter be­ing hit by a land­slide, a fallen tree and drown­ing in a river, while three oth­ers were miss­ing af­ter be­ing sep­a­rately swept away by river cur­rents, ac­cord­ing to the Of­fice of Civil De­fense.

More than 32,000 peo­ple aban­doned their homes for safer ar­eas at the height of the typhoon, which dam­aged nearly 1,000 houses, said Alexan­der Pama, who heads the gov­ern­ment’s dis­as­ter- re­sponse agency.

Sev­eral flights and ferry trips were can­celed and classes were called off in sev­eral towns in metropoli­tan Manila and nearby prov­inces as the typhoon bat­tered the north and in­ten­si­fied mon­soon rains on the main north­ern is­land of Luzon.

Goni is the ninth of about 20 storms and typhoons that are ex­pected to bat­ter the Philip­pines this year. Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most fe­ro­cious storms on record to hit land, dev­as­tated large ar­eas of the cen­tral Philip­pines in Novem­ber 2013, leav­ing more than 7,300 peo­ple dead or miss­ing.

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