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Over 200 dead as Philippines reels from Typhoon Rai

December 20, 2021

Authorities have said at least 208 people have died in the Philippines, with thousands of other victims losing their homes. Rescue operations continue around the clock.

Fallen electric pylons block a road while a sign asking for food (L) is displayed along a road in Surigao City, Surigao del norte province, on December 19, 2021, days after super typhoon Rai devastated the city.
Typhoon Rai struck quite late in the typhoon season, with most storms developing between July and OctoberImage: Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP

At least 208 people have died after a powerful typhoon slammed into the Philippines last week, the national police said on Monday. 

The tally showed at least 52 people are still missing, with dozens of others incurring injuries.

Typhoon Rai, one of the most powerful tropical storms to have struck the archipelago, made landfall on December 16, with wind speeds of up to 195 kilometers (120 miles) an hour.

The typhoon, which would have been classed as a category 5 hurricane in the US when it first enveloped the southern islands, has since moved on to the South China Sea.

The extent of the damage wrought by the powerful winds is becoming clearer with every passing day.

The country's national disaster agency said more than 480,000 people had been displaced.

Local officials ask for relief

Arthur Yap, the regional governor of Bohol in central Philippines, said at least 74 people had died in his province alone.

Yap has been constantly communicating with the public over social media posts on Facebook. On Sunday, he told the public he had asked mayors of towns to invoke their emergency powers to secure food and water for people.

The Philippine Red Cross reported "completed carnage" in coastal areas. The organization's chairman, Richard Gordon, previously reported that "homes, hospitals, school and community buildings" had been completely destroyed by the winds.

Pope Francis also offered his condolences on Sunday.

At least 10 people died on the Dinagat Islands, in the south, provincial information officer Jeffrey Crisostomo told AFP news agency on Sunday.

Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao were among the islands that bore the brunt of the storm.

Emergency services continue

Thousands of military, police, coast guard and fire personnel have been deployed to assist with rescue operations.

Coast guard and naval vessels carrying food, water and medical supplies have been dispatched.

Residents sit along a street as they line up to charge their gadgets outside a government office as most of the city remains without electricity due to Typhoon Rai in Cebu province, central Philippines, Saturday Dec. 18, 2021.
People have been left without power across the countryImage: Jay Labra/AP Photo/picture alliance

Heavy machinery, such as backhoes and front-end loaders, has also been sent out to help clear streets blocked by fallen power lines and trees.

Entire villages and towns remain without electricity as power went out, along with communication lines. 

The damage from Rai has led to comparisons with Super Typhoon Haiyan, which struck in 2013 and left more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

rm/jsi (AFP, AP, Reuters)