375 dead and 56 missing after typhoon hit the Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The death toll from the heaviest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has risen to 375, with more than 50 still missing and several central provinces grappling with communication and power outages and advocating for food and water, officials said Monday.

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  • Death toll from the heaviest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has risen to 375, and more than 50 remain missing
  • Officials say several central provinces grapple with communication and power cuts, pleading for food and water
  • At its strongest, Typhoon Rai blew sustained winds of 121 miles per hour before blowing into the sea on Friday
  • The toll may rise further as several towns and villages remain out of reach, although massive repairs and cleanup efforts are underway

At its strongest, Typhoon Rai blew sustained winds of 121 miles per hour with gusts of up to 168 mph before blowing into the South China Sea on Friday.

At least 375 people have been killed, 56 are missing and 500 have been injured, according to the national police. The toll may rise further as several towns and villages have been left out of reach due to communication and power outages, although massive clean-up and repair efforts have been underway.

Many have been killed by falling trees and collapsing walls, flash floods and landslides. A 57-year-old man was found dead hanging from a tree branch and a woman was blown away and died in Negros Occidental province, police said.

Governor Arlene Bag-ao of the Dinagat Islands, among the southeastern provinces first hit by the typhoon, said Rai’s ferocity over her island province of over 130,000 was worse than that of Typhoon Haiyan , one of the most powerful and deadliest typhoons on record that devastated central Philippines in November 2013 but claimed no casualties in Dinagat.

“If it was like being in a washing machine before, this time there was like a huge monster that crashed all over the place, grabbed anything like trees and tin roofs and then threw them everywhere, ”Bag-ao said over the phone. “The wind swirled from north to south to east and west several times for six hours. Some tin roof sheets were blown away and then thrown back.”

At least 14 villagers died and more than 100 others were injured by flying roofs, debris and shards of glass and were treated in makeshift operating rooms at damaged hospitals in Dinagat, Bag-ao said. . Many more would have died if thousands of residents had not been evacuated from high-risk villages.

Dinagat and several other typhoon-stricken provinces remained without electricity or communications, and many residents were in need of building materials, food and water. Bag-ao and other provincial officials have traveled to neighboring areas with cell phone signals to seek help and coordinate recovery efforts with the national government.

More than 700,000 people were struck by the typhoon in the central island provinces, including more than 400,000 who had to be moved to emergency shelters. Thousands of residents were rescued from flooded villages, including in the town of Loboc in the hard-hit province of Bohol, where residents were trapped on rooftops and in trees where they went to escape rising seas. waters.

Coast Guard ships transported 29 tourists from the United States, Britain, Canada, Switzerland, Russia, China and others who were stranded on Siargao Island, a popular surfing destination that was devastated by the typhoon, officials said. .

Emergency crews were working to restore power to 227 towns and villages, officials said. Electricity has only been restored in 21 areas so far. Telephone connections in more than 130 towns and villages were cut off by the typhoon, but at least 106 had been reconnected on Monday, officials said. Two local airports remained closed except for emergency flights, but most of the others have reopened, the civil aviation agency said.

Bag-ao and other officials feared their provinces would run out of fuel, which was in high demand due to the use of temporary generators, including those used for refrigerated warehouses with large amounts of stockpiles of coronavirus vaccines. Authorities have delivered vaccine deliveries to many provinces for an intensified vaccination campaign, which was postponed until last week due to the typhoon.

In the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Filipino people on Sunday, referring to the typhoon “which destroyed many homes”.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year, located between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. It also lies along the seismically active region of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, making it one of the most disaster prone countries in the world.

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