Philippine military ordered to deliver typhoon aid as toll crosses 200

Rai, which displaced nearly 490,000 people in Philippines before moving toward the South China Sea over the weekend

Reuters December 20, 2021
Houses and trees damaged by typhoon Rai are seen, in Surigao del Norte province, Philippines, December 18, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Philippines ordered its military on Monday to send aircrafts and naval vessels to carry aid to areas devastated by a powerful typhoon that has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and killed more than 200.

Many central and southern regions are cut off after Typhoon Rai, the strongest to hit the archipelago this year, downed power and communication links, complicating rescue and relief efforts.

"We are still assessing the damage, but it is huge," Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters, citing early reports. "The first thing we are doing is address the food and water (supplies) and medical care of the injured."

Lorenzana told the armed forces to deliver relief goods using all available assets, and send in more troops if necessary, he added.

Read More: Strong typhoon cuts power, causes flooding in northern Philippines

Police said the death toll from Rai has risen to 211, making it one of the deadliest typhoons to have struck the Southeast Asian nation. More than 200 have been injured, and 52 people were missing.

The police figure far outstripped the 58 deaths recorded by the national disaster agency, which said it was still checking reports from affected areas.

More than half the deaths reported by police were in the central region of Visayas, home to dive spots in Bohol province, among some of the most popular tourist destinations.

Provincial governor Arthur Yap told broadcaster CNN Philippines he feared the death toll could rise further, as a lack of mobile telephone links made it hard to gather information.

Rai, which made landfall as a category 5 typhoon on Thursday, revived memories of the devastation brought in 2013 by Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, which killed 6,300 people in the Philippines.

Rai, which displaced nearly 490,000 people in the Philippines before moving toward the South China Sea over the weekend.

It left a trail of destruction in the provinces of Cebu, Leyte, and Surigao del Norte, including Siargao, which is popular with surfers, and the Dinagat Islands.

President Rodrigo Duterte, who visited typhoon-stricken areas over the weekend, promised funds of about 2 billion pesos ($40 million) to help in recovery efforts.


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