MANILA – At least three people were reported dead in the Philippines on Friday after a major typhoon flooded villages, demolished roofs, fell trees and lost electricity in the southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 villagers fled to safety from the outbreak Attack, officials said.
Typhoon Rai weakened slightly after blowing ashore on the country’s southeast coast on Thursday, but remained fatal and destructive with sustained winds of 155 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 215 (133 mph) when it left before leaving swept west to western Palawan Province into the South China Sea, meteorologists said.
Officials assessed the extent of the damage and loss wrought by one of the strongest typhoons in recent years, but said the efforts were hampered by widespread power outages, broken links and roads clogged with fallen trees and debris. Witnesses reported violent winds that tore roofs off roofs and toppled trees, while others saw severe flooding that kept residents trapped in their homes, including on the banks of swollen rivers.
“I’ve never seen such a violent wind in my life, and we haven’t even been hit directly,” said Mayor Jerry Trenas of downtown Iloilo by phone to The Associated Press, adding that at least one resident was killed when she was hit by a blow. Bamboo tufts that were blown down by the storm.
Workers cleared streets in the coastal city of nearly half a million people who were left without power and struggled with erratic cell phone signals, he said.
Two other people died in southern Bukidnon Province, where a falling tree killed one resident and injured another, and in the southern city of Surigao, where a man died after being hit by rubble.
Officials confirmed at least two other typhoon-related deaths in central Guimaras province.
Coast Guard workers on Thursday rescued residents trapped in chest-deep water in a southern province where torrential rains drowned villages in brownish water. In the southern city of Cagayan de Oro, footage showed two rescuers struggling to hold a one-month-old baby in a sink over the water and use an umbrella to protect it from the wind and rain.
President’s spokesman Karlo Nograles said more than 332,000 people were evacuated from high-risk villages as the typhoon approached from the Pacific Ocean, including nearly 15,000 being taken to evacuation centers. Overcrowding at these centers made efforts to keep people safe at bay after authorities discovered the country’s first infections caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Vaccination campaigns have also been discontinued in the provinces hit by the typhoon.
The Coast Guard arrested all ships in dozen of ports affected by stormy weather and stranded more than 4,500 passengers, as well as ferry and cargo ship workers. An international airport in the central province of Cebu has been closed and several mainly domestic flights have been canceled while schools and workplaces in the most vulnerable areas have been closed, Nograles said.
At least 62 cities and municipalities either lost electricity completely or were affected by power outages.
About 20 storms and typhoons hit the Philippines every year. The archipelago is located in the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” region, making it one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.
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