Super Typhoon Rai kills at least 5, displaces 300,000 in Philippines

At least five people were reported dead in the Philippines on Friday after a strong typhoon engulfed villages in floods that trapped residents on roofs, toppled trees and knocked out power in southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 villagers had fled to safety before the onslaught, officials said, News.Az reports citing Daily Sabah. 

Typhoon Rai slightly weakened after blowing ashore Thursday on the country’s southeastern coast but remained destructive with sustained winds of 155 kph (96 mph) and gusts of up to 215 kph as it barreled westward toward western Palawan province before exiting into the South China Sea, meteorologists said.

Officials were assessing the extent of the damage and casualties wrought by one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country in recent years but said efforts were hampered by widespread power outages, downed communications and roads clogged with fallen trees and debris. Witnesses described ferocious winds that ripped off roofs and forced down trees, while others experienced severe flooding that trapped residents on their roofs.

"I have never experienced such ferocity of the wind in my life and we were not even directly hit,” Mayor Jerry Trenas of central Iloilo city told The Associated Press (AP) by telephone, adding that at least one resident was killed when she was hit by a cluster of bamboo blown down by the storm.

"Many houses were destroyed and we are still checking if there are other casualties," he said in a television interview, according to Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa). "There is no electricity as many poles were also toppled."

Workers were clearing roads in the coastal city of nearly half a million people, which remained without power and struggled with erratic cellphone signals, he said.

Two other people died in southern Bukidnon province, where a falling tree killed one resident and injured another, and in southern Surigao city, where a man died after being hit by debris, officials said. Officials were confirming at least two other typhoon-related deaths in central Guimaras province.

About 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year. The archipelago is located in the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire” region, making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. The strongest typhoon ever to hit the Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan, which killed more than 6,300 people and displaced more than 4 million in November 2013.


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