More than twenty people dead and destruction “Alarming” : this is the report established, Saturday, December 17, by the Philippine authorities following the passage of typhoon Rai. It is the most powerful to hit the country this year.
More than 300,000 people have had to flee their homes since Thursday because of the typhoon that devastated the south and the center of the country, according to the national agency of natural disasters of the Philippines.
Rai was called «Supertyphon» when it made landfall Thursday, on the tourist island of Siargao, accompanied by winds of 195 kilometers per hour. On Friday, the wind speed had dropped to 155 km / h, according to the Philippine meteorological agency.
He crossed, late Friday afternoon, the north of the island of Palawan, a popular tourist destination, before moving away towards the South China Sea, in the direction of Vietnam.
Eighteen thousand police forces deployed
“This is one of the strongest storms to hit the Philippines in December in the past decade”Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “The information and images we receive are very alarming. “
More than 18,000 soldiers, police, coast guards and firefighters will join search and rescue efforts in the most affected regions, Mark Timbal, spokesperson for the national disaster agency, told AFP. “There was significant damage” in Surigao and Siargao, the areas that suffered the most from the typhoon, said Mr. Timbal.
At least three people have been killed and dozens more injured in Surigao, city mayor Ernesto Matugas told ABS-CBN television station, bringing the total death toll to twenty-one. Bocanegra warned that the power cuts would affect the water supply, raising concerns about sanitary conditions.
A late typhoon
On the island of Dinagat, where the typhoon killed at least six people, residents “Are trying to repair their house, because even our evacuation centers have been demolished” the vice-governor of this eastern province, Nilo Demerey, told ABS-CBN. “They cannot take refuge elsewhere … everything has been destroyed”, he lamented.
On social media, the Philippine Coast Guard shared photos showing widespread destruction around Surigao, with roofs torn off, buildings devastated and wooden structures shattered. Aerial images show vast expanses of rice paddies underwater.
Rai is a particularly late typhoon in the season. Most tropical cyclones in the Pacific Ocean form between July and October. Scientists have long warned that typhoons are getting stronger and stronger as man-made global warming accelerates.
The Philippines, considered one of the countries most vulnerable to global warming, is struck by around 20 typhoons each year which often wreak havoc on homes, crops and infrastructure in already very poor regions. The deadliest cyclone on record in the Philippines is the supertyphon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 dead or missing in 2013.