by Jim Gomez | The Associated Press
MANILA, Philippines – The death toll from the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year has risen to 375, with more than 50 people still missing and several central provinces struggling with communication and power outages and access to food and water. are pleading. Officials gave this information on Monday.
At its strongest, Typhoon Rai packed sustained winds of 195 kph (121 mph) with gusts of 270 kph (168 mph) on Friday before drifting into the South China Sea.
According to the National Police, at least 375 people were killed, 56 were missing and 500 were injured. The toll could still rise as many towns and villages remained inaccessible due to lack of communication and electricity, although large-scale clean-up and repair efforts were underway.
Many were killed by falling trees and falling walls, flash floods and landslides. A 57-year-old man was found hanging from a tree branch and a woman was blown up and died, police said.
Arlene Bagh-Ao, governor of the Dinagat Islands in the southeastern provinces, said Rai’s brutality on her island province of more than 130,000 people was worse than Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful and deadliest typhoons on record. Devastated the central Philippines in November 2013 but there were no casualties in Dinagat.
“If it was like being in the washing machine before, this time like a giant monster that smashed itself everywhere, grabbed anything like trees and tin roofs and then threw them everywhere,” Garden-Come said by telephone. “The wind was moving from north to south to east and west repeatedly for six hours. Some tin roofing sheets were blown off and then thrown back. ,
At least 14 villagers were killed and more than 100 others were injured and treated in temporary surgery rooms at Dinagat’s damaged hospitals after being blown off roofs, debris and glass fragments, Bagh-Ao said. Many more people would have died if the thousands of residents had not been evacuated from the high-risk villages.
Dinagat and several other hurricane-hit provinces remained without electricity and communications, and many residents needed construction materials, food and water. Bagh-Ao and other provincial officials traveled to nearby areas that had cellphone signals to assist and coordinate recovery efforts with the national government.
More than 700,000 people were killed by the storm in the Central Island provinces, with more than 400,000 being taken to emergency shelters. Thousands of residents were rescued from flooded villages, including the flood-hit city of Lobok in Bohol province, where residents were trapped on roofs and trees to escape the rising floodwaters.
Officials said Coast Guard ships brought 29 American, British, Canadian, Swiss, Russian, Chinese and other tourists stranded on Siargao Island, a popular surfing destination that was ravaged by the storm.
Officials said emergency teams are working to restore power in 227 cities and towns. So far electricity has been restored in only 21 areas. Officials said cellphone connections were cut in more than 130 cities and towns by the storm, but at least 106 had been reconnected as of Monday. The civil aviation agency said two local airports remained closed except for emergency flights, but most others have reopened.
Bagh-Ao and other officials were concerned that their provinces might be short of fuel, which was in high demand due to the use of makeshift power generators used for refrigerated warehouses with large quantities of coronavirus vaccine stocks. . Officials delivered vaccine shipments to several provinces for an intensive vaccination campaign that was postponed last week due to a typhoon.
At the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the people of the Philippines on Sunday, referring to a “storm that destroyed many homes”.
About 20 tropical storms and typhoons affect the Philippines annually, which is located between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. It is also located along the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” region, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.