The death toll caused by Typhoon Rai has risen to 208 in the Philippines, national police said on Monday, making this powerful natural phenomenon one of the deadliest in the country in recent years.
At least 239 people were injured and 52 are missing as a result of Rai’s devastating passage through the southern and central regions of the archipelago, the national police added.
More than 300,000 people fled their homes Thursday as the typhoon made landfall in the center of the country.
The Philippine branch of the Red Cross reported “complete carnage” in coastal areas.
The storm ripped roofs, uprooted trees, knocked down utility poles, demolished wooden houses and flooded villages – reminiscent of “super typhoon” Haiyan that hit the archipelago in 2013.
Called Yolanda in the Philippines, Haiyan was the deadliest cyclone on record in the country, killing more than 7,300 or missing.
One of the islands hardest hit by Rai is Bohol – known especially for its tarsiers, a primate endemic to the archipelago – where at least 74 people have died, Provincial Governor Arthur Yap said on his Facebook page.
– “S.O.S” –
Significant destruction was also recorded on the islands of Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao, the most affected Thursday when the storm hit the country with winds of 195 kilometers per hour.
At least ten people have died in Dinagat, Jeffrey Crisostomo, the provincial press officer, confirmed to AFP on Sunday.
The “SOS” distress signal was painted on a road in the tourist town of General Luna on the island of Siargao – where surfers and vacationers flocked before Christmas – as people struggled to find food and water.
Communication in several parts of the affected areas was cut off, making it difficult for rescue workers to assess the extent of the damage.
Electricity is also out of service, affecting water filling stations and ATMs.
Thousands of military, police, coast guard and firefighters have been deployed to carry out the search and rescue work.
Food, water and medical supplies were provided, transported by coast guard vessels. Equipment to clear roads blocked by utility poles and fallen trees has also been sent.
Rai is particularly late in the season. Most tropical cyclones in the Pacific Ocean form between July and October.
Scientists have long warned that typhoons get stronger and stronger as global warming accelerates.
The Philippines, ranked among the countries most exposed to climate change, is swept by nearly 20 tropical storms or typhoons each year which typically destroy crops, homes and infrastructure in already poor regions.