Typhoon Goni hits Okinawa after killing 15 in Philippines

AP News
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Posted: Aug 23, 2015 11:53 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Typhoon Goni lashed the southern Japanese islands of Okinawa with heavy rains and winds on Monday, after leaving at least 15 people dead and others missing in the northern Philippines, including a dozen miners whose work camps were buried by a huge mudslide in a mountain village, officials said.

Overnight, record wind-gusts of 256 kph (159 mph) flipped over cars and knocked down utility polls on the remote Japanese island of Ishigaki, near Taiwan, Japanese media reported. A few people were cut by broken windows. The storm, with sustained winds of 180 kph (112 mph), was heading north toward Japan's southernmost main island of Kyushu.

In the Philippines, Goni dumped heavy rain for three days on the mountainous north, then battered already-sodden upland villages with fierce winds, triggering landslides, officials said.

Landslides killed at least 12 people in the hard-hit mountain province of Benguet, including four gold miners who were pulled out of a huge mudslide that buried three work camps. 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 survivors. 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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Associated Press writers Jim Gomez in Manila and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo contributed to this story.