Before it exits Philippines, typhoon Rai kills up to 31 people
The Xinhua reported that Acerns Velasco of Lapu-Lapu City in the central Philippines said in a Facebook post seven hours after Typhoon Rai slammed into the country on Thursday: "I can hear the strong wind, howling as it peels off the iron sheets of our house."
The strongest typhoon to batter the Philippines this year swelled rivers and flooded low-lying areas while cutting through towns and villages in the central Philippines and the northern Mindanao in the southern Philippines. The typhoon has killed up to 31 people.
Out of the 31 reported deaths, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said only four have been validated. The national police reported at least 19 deaths but did not provide further details.
Gusty winds from the powerful typhoon toppled over trees and power lines in the Philippines as it blew away from the archipelago on Saturday.
Water was chest-high in some places, knee-high in others. Only roofs in some flooded areas remained visible, forcing rescuers to use rubber boats and ropes to evacuate people to safer grounds.
In Bohol, one of the hardest-hit provinces, some residents sat on the roofs of their flooded houses as they waited for rescuers. People in the affected areas have difficulty in contacting their relatives due to the cut of telecommunication and power lines.
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap lamented that the breakdown of communications makes it difficult to make a rapid assessment of the typhoon.
Yap said the local government has moved more than 13,000 families to evacuation centers from critical areas. He added: "But throughout the night and into yesterday morning, this number has swelled as the devastation was great and all-encompassing."
Yap said on Saturday that he had signed an executive order declaring a state of calamity in the entire province "due to the severity of destruction."
Dinagat Islands Governor Kaka Bag-ao said typhoon Rai "leveled (the island province) to the ground," cutting power and communication lines. Bag-ao said: "We have lost our homes. Wall and roofs were torn and blown away like paper."
Public work crews of the affected areas in the central and southern Philippines have worked hard to clear the roadways of fallen trees and debris, restore the power and communication lines.
Lawmaker Francisco Matugas from Surigao del Norte said almost all of Siargao Island's population, including tourists, experienced the fierce and destructive winds, adding that the island, a famous tourist destination for surfers, was "totally devastated."
Rai made landfall on the island on Thursday afternoon. It was blowing maximum winds of 195 km per hour and with gusts of up to 240 km per hour when it slammed into Siargao Island.
Assistant Secretary Jusan Vincent Arcena of the Presidential Communications Operations Office said his hometown Siargao "is unfortunately devastated by the typhoon."
Arcena added in a Facebook post: "I'm worried about their safety. I can't even contact my relatives and local government units because of the situation here and in the island."
Landslides and flash floods are common across the Philippines during the rainy season, especially when typhoons hit.
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world, mainly due to its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire and Pacific typhoon belt. On average, this archipelagic country experiences 20 typhoons every year, some of which are intense and destructive.
The World Bank said natural disasters have killed 33,000 Filipinos in the past thirty years, and 120 million people adversely affected.