At Least 21 Killed in Philippines’ Strongest Storm (+Video)

At Least 21 Killed in Philippines’ Strongest Storm (+Video)

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – At least 23 people were killed in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, officials said.

More than 300,000 people fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Typhoon Rai ravaged the southern and central regions of the archipelago, knocking out communications and electricity in many areas, ripping off roofs and toppling concrete power poles, The Guardian reported.

Rai was a super typhoon when it slammed into Siargao Island on Thursday, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 km/h (120 mph). On Friday, wind speeds eased to 150 km/h, the state weather forecaster said.



More than 18,000 military, police, coast guard and fire personnel will join search and rescue efforts in the worst-affected regions, Mark Timbal, spokesman for the national disaster agency, said.

“There has been severe damage” in Surigao and Siargao, Timbal said, referring to the areas that bore the brunt of the typhoon.

Dinagat vice governor Nilo Demerey told broadcaster ABS-CBN the storm devastated the island near Siargao.

That takes the overall death toll to 23, with the disaster agency also reporting seven missing and two injured.

The storm also lashed the popular tourist destination of Palawan island after ravaging the Visayas and the southern island of Mindanao.

More than 300,000 people had sought emergency shelter as the typhoon charged across the Pacific Ocean and smashed into the country, according to local reports. About 18,000 had yet to return home.

“It is clear there is widespread devastation,” said Alberto Bocanegra, head of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.

Rai moved across the Visayas region to Palawan on Friday and was expected to emerge Saturday over the South China Sea, heading towards Vietnam.

The Philippines is ranked as one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. It is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.