Typhoon Rai kills at least 75 in the Philippines

At least 75 people were killed in the Philippines during the passage of Typhoon Rai, the most powerful to strike the country this year, according to official reports released Sunday (December 19th).

This toll, still provisional, was revised upwards after the governor of the tourist island of Bohol (center), Arthur Yap, announced on his Facebook page that 49 people had died and ten were missing in his province, according to the data communicated by the mayors. “Communications are still cut. Only 21 mayors out of 48 got in touch with us ”, he clarified.

Qualified for «Supertyphon» When it made landfall on Thursday, on the tourist island of Siargao, Rai crossed the central and southern Philippines on Thursday and Friday, accompanied by winds reaching 195 km / h, blowing roofs up, tearing poles electrical and cutting communications, before moving away, Saturday, in the South China Sea.

“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).

Homes destroyed by Typhoon Rai, Surigao, Philippines, December 17, 2021.

Thousands of security forces as reinforcements

Aerial photos released by the army showed considerable damage in the areas crossed, and some 300,000 people had to flee their homes. Thousands of military, police, coast guard and firefighters have been deployed to the worst affected areas to assist in search and rescue operations. Heavy machinery is also sent on site to clear roads blocked by trees and electricity poles.

A Philippine navy ship delivering emergency aid is due to go to Bohol on Monday, Yap said after declaring a state of calamity on the island. An overview of the affected areas showed “Very clearly that our fellow citizens have suffered greatly in terms of destroyed homes and agricultural losses”, he lamented. Thousands of gallons of water were delivered after power cuts across the island disrupted water filling stations, Yap added.

The islands of Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao have also suffered significant destruction. Aerial footage released by the military shows severe damage in the town of General Luna on the island of Siargao, where surfers and vacationers had flocked for the holiday season, with roofs torn off and debris littering the ground .

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. The damage is “Equivalent if not worse” to those caused by the 2013 supertyphon Haiyan, according to provincial governor Arlene Bag-ao. Haiyan, known as Yolanda in the Philippines, was the country’s deadliest cyclone, killing 7,300.

Survivors following the passage of Typhoon Rai, in Cebu, Philippines, on December 18, 2021.

A late typhoon

In the town of Surigao, at the northern end of the island of Mindanao, shards of glass from shattered windows, corrugated roofing sheets, power lines and other debris were strewn in the streets. At least three people have been killed and dozens more injured, the city’s mayor, Ernesto Matugas, told ABS-CBN television.

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.

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The World with AFP