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375 dead, 56 missing after typhoon makes landfall in Philippines, officials say death toll could rise

Officials say the death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has reached 375, with more than 50 others still missing and some central provinces struggling with disrupted communications and blackouts and begging for food and water, officials said Monday.

At its strongest, Typhoon Rai had sustained winds of 195 km (121 mph) with winds of up to 270 km/h (168 mph) before blowing into the South China Sea on Friday.

According to the national police, at least 375 people were killed, 56 were missing and 500 were injured. Fees are likely to still rise as some towns and villages remain out of reach due to cuts in communications and power outages, although major cleanup and repair efforts are underway.

Many people were killed by fallen trees, fallen walls, flash floods and landslides. Police said a 57-year-old man was hanged from a tree and a woman was blown away and died in Negros Occidental province.

Governor Arlene Bag-ao of the Dinagat archipelago, one of the southeastern provinces affected by the first storm, said Rai’s intensity on her island province of more than 130,000 people was worse than Typhoon Haiyan, one of the strongest and most deadly storms. devastated the central Philippines in November 2013 but caused no casualties in Dinagat.

“If before it was like being in a washing machine, this time it’s like a giant monster smashing itself everywhere, grabbing anything like trees and corrugated iron roofs and throwing them everywhere, ‘ Bag-ao said over the phone. “The wind swirled from north to south to east and west continuously for six hours. Some tin roofing was blown off and then thrown back.”

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

Dinagat and several other provinces affected by the storm are still without electricity and communications and many residents need building materials, food and water. Bag-ao and other provincial officials traveled to nearby areas with cell phone signal to seek aid and coordinate recovery efforts with the national government.

More than 700,000 people were affected by the storm in the central island provinces, of which more than 400,000 people had to be moved to emergency shelters. Thousands of residents have been rescued from flooded villages, including the hard-hit town of Loboc in Bohol province, where residents were trapped on rooftops and in trees where they had come to escape floodwaters. rise high.

Officials said coast guard ships carrying 29 American, British, Canadian, Swiss, Russian, Chinese and other tourists were stranded on Siargao island, a popular surfing destination that has been devastated. by the storm.

Emergency teams are working to restore power in 227 cities and towns, officials said. So far, only 21 areas have been restored to power. Officials said cell phone connections in more than 130 cities and towns were cut due to the storm but at least 106 had been reconnected as of Monday. Two local airports remain closed except for emergency flights, but most other airports have reopened, the civil aviation authority said.

Bag-ao and other officials are concerned that their provinces may run out of fuel, high demand due to temporary use of generators, including generators used for cold storage with large amounts of coronavirus vaccine. . Officials have moved vaccine shipments to multiple provinces for a booster vaccination campaign, which was postponed last week due to storms.

At the Vatican, Pope Francis expressed his closeness to the Filipino people on Sunday, referring to the storm that “destroyed many houses”.

About 20 tropical cyclones and typhoons make landfall every year in the Philippines, which lies between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea. It is also located along a seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” region, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

https://ktla.com/news/nationworld/375-dead-56-missing-after-typhoon-slams-philippines-officials-say-death-toll-may-still-increase/ 375 dead, 56 missing after typhoon makes landfall in Philippines, officials say death toll could rise

JOE HERNANDEZ

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