MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Typhoon Goni lashed the northern Philippines on Saturday with pounding rain and winds that set off landslides and flooded low-lying villages, leaving at least 10 people dead and forcing more than 5,000 to flee their homes, officials said.
The typhoon’s ferocious power weakened Saturday but it still packed dangerously strong sustained winds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 185 kph (115 mph) as it blew off Batanes province on the northern tip of the archipelago, the government’s weather agency said. The typhoon also picked up speed and was forecast to start blowing away from the country on Sunday, passing to the east of Taiwan before heading toward Okinawa, Japan.
As it approached the north without making landfall, Goni dumped heavy rains for three days then battered already-sodden mountainous villages with its wind, making them vulnerable to land- and mudslides, officials said.
In hard-hit Benguet province, landslides killed at least eight people, including two brothers who were buried alive in a temporary shelter where they took cover in Bakun town, provincial officials said.
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Another villager died in a landslide in Mountain Province, while a man was pinned to death by a fallen tree in Ilocos Norte province, according to the Office of Civil Defense.
Benguet Governor Nestor Fongwan said that a landslide buried about seven shanties used by gold miners in one far-flung mountain village in his province’s Mankayan town and that at least one body has been pulled out by rescuers from the muddy heap. Up to 17 small-scale gold miners may have been in those shanties, but it was not clear whether they left the village amid the stormy weather, he said.
“We’re checking door to door to verify if they evacuated somewhere or were there the night before and possibly got buried in the landslide,” Fongwan said by phone.
Two men were swept by rampaging rivers in the northern provinces of La Union and Ilocos Norte and remained missing, officials said.
More than 5,400 villagers were moved to storm shelters in six northern provinces.
Several flights and ferry trips have been canceled and authorities scrapped classes in several towns in metropolitan Manila and nearby provinces due to flooding and danger from the howling wind.
Goni, Korean for swan, 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.