Disasters & Accidents

Typhoon Rai loses steam after devastating central Philippines

Bangkok, Dec 17 (EFE).- Typhoon Rai, the most powerful to hit the Philippines this year, headed to the extreme west of the archipelago Friday after causing massive material damage and at least one death during its devastating passage through the central parts of the country.

Rai, which has lost strength since its landfall on the island of Siargao on Thursday, has led to the evacuation of more than 300,000 people, out of which least 18,000 are still displaced, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said.

The typhoon, known as Odette in the country and the 15th to hit the Philippines this year, has cut-off communication in some areas and damaged many buildings.

The passenger terminals of Siargao airport, where Rai arrived as a super typhoon with sustained winds of 190 km per hour (118 mph), have suffered huge damages even as the runways are in good condition.

“Planes and choppers carrying relief goods can land. Bad news though, the Siargao Airport Terminal is totally damaged,” Surigao del Norte’s representative, Francisco Jose Matugas, said on Facebook.

The disaster agency has sent two aircraft to conduct an aerial assessment of the damage in the region, where some 90,000 people live.

The authorities have reported one death so far, identified as a male between 11-14 years old, and two injured. They fear the death toll might be higher.

Images released by the authorities show flooded streets with emergency services struggling to rescue the affected, including a one-month-old baby.

The meteorology department expects Rai to leave the Philippines waters Saturday before heading to Vietnam.

An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines yearly.

The most destructive, so far, has been Super Typhoon Haiyan – the largest known to make landfall – which struck Samar and Leyte islands in November 2013, killing some 7,000 people and leaving 200,000 homeless.

The Philippines is one of the countries most vulnerable to climate change due to natural disasters and sits on the so-called “Pacific Ring of Fire,” an area that sees about 90 percent of the planet’s seismic and volcanic activity. EFE


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