This aerial photo shows damaged caused by typhoon after the storm crossed over Surigao City in Surigao del Norte province. AFP
Typhoon Rai blew away on Friday night into the South China Sea after rampaging through southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 people in its path were evacuated to safety in advance in a pre-emptive move officials say may have saved a lot of lives.
At its strongest, Rai packed sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour and gusts of up to 270 kph, one of the most powerful in recent years to hit the disaster-prone Southeast Asian archipelago, which lies between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
The typhoon slammed into the country’s southeastern coast on Thursday but the extent of casualties and destruction remained unclear two days after with entire provinces still without power and cellphone connection.
The government’s main disaster-response agency said at least 31 people were reported killed, many after being hit by falling trees, but it added it was validating most of the deaths. At least three were injured and one was missing.
Officials on Dinagat Islands, one of the first provinces to be lashed by the typhoon’s ferocious winds, remained cut off Saturday due to downed power and communication lines. But its governor, Arlene Bag-ao, managed to post a statement on the province’s website to say that the island of about 180,000 "has been leveled to the ground.”
She pleaded for food, water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits and medical supplies. She said only a few casualties have been reported in the capital so far because other towns remain isolated.
"We may have survived, but we cannot do the same in the coming days because of our limited capacities as an island province,” Bag-ao said, adding some of Dinagat’s hospitals could not open due to damage. "Most of our commercial and cargo vessels ... are now unsuitable for sea voyages, effectively cutting us off from the rest of the country.”
This aerial photo shows destroyed houses caused by typhoon after the storm crossed over Surigao City. AFP
Vice Gov. Nilo Demerey managed to reach a nearby province and told DZMM radio network that at least six residents died and that "almost 95% of houses in Dinagat have no roof,” and even emergency shelters were destroyed.
"We’re currently doing repairs because even our evacuation centers were destroyed. There are no shelters, the churches, gymnasium, schools, public markets and even the capitol were all shattered,” Demerey said.
Residents stand by their houses destroyed by typhoon after the storm crossed over Surigao City. AFP
Pictures posted on Dinagat’s website show low-slung houses with roofs either blown off or damaged and surrounded by tin roof sheets and debris. The nearby island of Siargao, known as the surfing capital of the Philippines, also was pummeled by the typhoon.
Coast Guard personnel assist in the evacuation of residents due to flooding caused by typhoon in Cagayan De Oro City.
In central Bohol province, which was directly hit by the typhoon, the coast guard said its personnel on board rubber boats rescued residents who were trapped on roofs and trees, as waters rose rapidly. It released footage showing coast guard staff helping people from the roof of a house nearly engulfed by brownish floodwater to a rubber boat. They also help a villager climb down from a tree above the floodwater while another man, also wearing an orange life vest, waits for his turn.
Over 81,000 are still in shelters and nine others injured, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said. Sixteen of the 25 deaths were reported in Northern Mindanao region in the south, while 12 of the 26 missing are from the eastern Bicol region, the council added.
In a horrific act of absolute audacity Sudanese driver drove his vehicle into a flooded valley, which resulted in the death of at least 10 passengers.
Hessa directed the task force to put a plan for the next phase regarding effects of rain and floods in the eastern region in terms of cleaning of the affected areas by the volunteers in cooperation with the competent authorities.
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