Storm death toll rises in Philippines, no power yet for millions

Storm death toll rises in Philippines, no power yet for millions

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year has killed at least 14 people after destroying homes, flooding villages and toppling power and communication lines as it cut across the country.

Rai, a super typhoon when it slammed into Siargao Island, a tourist and surfing destination in the southern Philippines, has forced at least 330,000 people to flee their homes across the country, authorities said. It made landfall at least nine times as it moved over the archipelagic nation, bringing torrential rains and destructive winds before heading into the South China Sea on Saturday.

Siargao was totally devastated and 20bn pesos (R6.3bn) of damage may have been caused on the island, Bingo Matugas, congressman for the province, told CNN Philippines. 

Several people died in separate incidents involving landslides and falling trees, according to officials from provinces. Airlines have canceled hundreds of flights in the past few days, while some airports — including Cebu, the country’s second busiest — were shut due to heavy damage.

Around 3.1-million people have no electricity in central and southern Philippines due to Rai, the department of energy said. Telecommunication lines were also out in areas hit by the storm, hampering rescues and damage assessment, said Ricardo Jalad, head of the national disaster risk reduction and management council.

The Philippines, hit by an average of 20 typhoons each year, is one of the countries most exposed to more extreme weather events caused by climate change. Between 2000 and 2016, natural disasters have cost the nation an average $1.2bn (R19.1bn) annually, according to an Asian Development Bank Institute paper.

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