30.7 C
Bangkok

Philippines Hammered by Typhoon Rai that Killed 31 People

Must read

In the central Philippines, the powerful typhoon Rai has killed at least 31 people, knocked down power and communications and caused widespread destruction, officials said Saturday. “Our land has been levelled by this storm,” said one governor.

Thousands of people were evacuated to safety in advance of Typhoon Rai’s arrival in southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 people in its path were evacuated. Officials say the preemptive evacuation may have saved many lives.

It was one of the most powerful storms to hit the disaster-prone Southeast Asian archipelago in recent years, which is sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. Rai had sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour and gusts as high as 270 km per hour.

Despite the typhoon’s destruction on the country’s southeastern coast, the extent of casualties and destruction remained unclear two days after its landfall. This is because entire provinces still lack power and cellphone service.

At least 31 people have been reported dead, many of them after being struck by falling trees, but the government’s main disaster-response agency says most of the deaths are confirmed. Another person is still missing.

Philippines Dinagat Islands levelled to the ground

Power lines and communication lines were downed on Dinagat Islands, one of the first provinces to be hit by the typhoon’s ferocious winds. Nonetheless, the island’s governor, Arlene Bag-ao, managed to post a statement on the province’s website saying the island of about 180,000 people “has been levelled to the ground.”

She requested food, water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits and medical supplies. As a result, she said there have been few casualties reported in the capital so far because other towns have remained isolated.

“We may have survived, but we can’t do the same in the next few days due to the limited resources of an island province,” Bag-ao said, noting Dinagat’s hospitals were closed due to damage. “Many of our cargo and commercial vessels… have become unsuitable for sea travel, effectively cutting us off from the rest of the country.”

Nilo Demerey, vice governor of a nearby province, reached the DZMM radio network and reported that at least six people died and that “nearly 95 per cent of houses in Dinagat have no roofs,” and even emergency shelters have been destroyed.

“Even our evacuation centres have been destroyed so we’re currently working on repairs. Shelters are not available, the churches, gyms, schools, public markets have been destroyed,” Demerey said.

Residents trapped in trees rescued

Images posted on Dinagat’s website show low-slung homes surrounded by tin sheets and debris, with their roofs either blown off or damaged. The surfing capital of the Philippines, Siargao, was also ravaged by the typhoon.

The coast guard reported that its personnel on rubber boats rescued trapped residents on roofs and trees as waters rose rapidly in Bohol province, directly hit by the storm. Coastal guard members helped people from a roof engulfed by brownish floodwater to a rubber boat in a video released by the agency.

In addition, they helped a villager climb down from a tree above the floodwaters, while another man, also wearing an orange life vest, waited for his turn.

President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will look for funds to help the provinces due to the use of budget contingency funds for the Coronavirus pandemic. Duterte is scheduled to visit the area this weekend.

The Philippines is battered by 20 typhoons and storms every year. As part of the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” region, it is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries.

More News

learn spanish online

Latest News