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Four dead and nearly 350,000 evacuated as world’s strongest storm of 2020 hits Philippines

At least four people have died and nearly 350,000 are in evacuation centres as a super typhoon hits the Philippines.

Goni, the world’s strongest storm so far this year, made landfall in the southern Bicol region, with sustained winds of 140mph (225kph) and gusts of 174mph (280kph).

The victims included one person who was reportedly hit by a tree and a five-year-old who was washed away after a river overflowed in Albay province.

Governor Al Francis Bichara also received reports of volcanic mud flows, as well as electricity supply and communication service outages.

Video footage by news channels and on social media showed rivers overflowing and some dikes destroyed, submerging villages.

In Quezon, another southern province, governor Danilo Suarez said the power supply was cut in 10 towns.

Typhoon Goni aftermath in Albay province
A man looks at his house buried under the pile of rubble and sand following flash floods brought by Typhoon 'Goni' in Barangay Busay, Daraga town, Albay province, Philippines, November 1, 2020. REUTERS/Nino N. Luces NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES
Image: Flash floods brought by Typhoon Goni in Barangay Busay, Albay province

The weather bureau downgraded Goni to typhoon category after it hit the country.

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But the weather agency warned that Goni still poses a threat while it moves towards the capital Manila, where it is due to hit later on Sunday.

The agency warned that within the next 12 hours, people will experience "catastrophic violent winds and intense, or torrential rainfall”.

Residents in affected areas have been warned to expect landslides, massive flooding, storm surges of up to 5m (16ft) and powerful winds that can blow away shacks.

Between 19 million and 31 million people could be affected by the typhoon, including those in danger zones and in Manila, the disaster management agency said.

Aftermath of Typhoon Goni in Albay Province
A view of floodwater and damaged houses in the aftermath of Typhoon Goni in Bariw, Camalig, Albay Province, Philippines, November 1, 2020, in this picture obtained from social media. Renz Adrian Ronda/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Image: Floodwater and damage in the aftermath of the typhoon in Albay province

Around 347,000 people were in evacuation centres, said disaster management chief Ricardo Jalad, lowering the figure of nearly a million reported by the agency on Saturday.

Dozens of international and domestic flights have been cancelled as the civil aviation authority ordered a one-day closure of Manila’s main gateway, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport.

Goni is among the strongest typhoons to hit the Philippines since Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people in 2013.

Last month, Typhoon Molave struck the country, killing 22 people, many of them who drowned in provinces south of Manila.

The weather bureau said it was also monitoring another cyclone, tropical storm Atsani, which could hit northern Luzon provinces in the coming days.