Philippines: Death toll surges as Super Typhoon Rai ravages

Published on : Monday, December 20, 2021

Philippines

At least 208 people are now known to have died after a powerful storm struck the Philippines on Thursday; police are quoted as saying by local media.

Super Typhoon Rai – with winds of about 195km/h (120mph) – sent some 300,000 people running for safety when it hit the country’s south-eastern islands. At least 239 people were injured and 52 others have been reported missing by local police.

The rescue teams have described scenes of “complete carnage”. But establishing the scale of the losses is difficult, as communication to a number of areas has been cut off.

There are fears widespread landslides and flooding may have claimed more lives.

The chair of the Philippines Red Cross, Richard Gordon said that there are many areas

There are many areas have no power, no communications, very little water. There are some areas that look like it has been bombed worse than World War Two.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has launched an emergency appeal seeking 20 million Swiss francs (£16m; $22m) to fund long-term relief efforts.

Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas,” Mr Gordon said. “Homes, hospitals, school and community buildings have been ripped to shreds.”

Volunteers are on the scene giving out urgent help “for people who have lost everything”, he said. Thousands of military, coast guard and fire personnel have been deployed in the country’s worst-affected areas to assist with search and rescue efforts.

Meanwhile, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has conducted an aerial inspection of the areas ravaged by the storm. The videos posted on social media by his aides show extensive damage to Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao islands.

More than 6,000 people died when that storm – also known as Typhoon Haiyan – hit the country in 2013. It remains the country’s deadliest storm on record. On average about 20 storms and typhoons strike the Philippines each year.

Super Typhoon Rai is the most powerful to hit the Philippines in 2021, and comes late in the region’s typhoon season – with most cyclones developing between July and October. Scientists have long warned that rising global temperatures, induced by man-made climate change, are causing typhoons to become more powerful and strengthen more rapidly.

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