More than 75 dead as Typhoon Rai sweeps through Philippines

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Typhoon Rai at its initial peak intensity off the coast of Siargao Island, Philippines on December 16.
Image: NASA/Terra-MODIS.

On December 16, Typhoon Rai, locally known as Typhoon Odette created havoc in the Philippines. More than 300 thousand people were evacuated from the southeastern islands of Philippines. After making landfall, the storm ripped off roofs and toppled concrete power poles while knocking out communications and electricity. Today, the Government of Philippines said that more than 75 people have died.

The island of Siargao, where the typhoon made landfall was "totally devastated", the governor said. The typhoon was categorized as a Category 5-equivalent super typhoon. Surigao City was deprived of electricity and communications due to downed power lines while scores of trees left many roads impassable. Many buildings in the area were also devastated and the overall impact of Rai in the area was described as "widespread".

On December 17, Gwendolyn Garcia, the governor of Cebu, placed the province of Cebu in a state of calamity due to widespread damages. That same day, the governor of Bohol, Arthur C. Yap, also put the province of Bohol in a state of calamity. The storage of Covid-19 vaccines and vaccine kits were also feared to be disrupted due to power outages. President Duterte also announced that he will tour Leyte, Surigao City, Bohol and Cebu to check the situation there. Food and water were sparse for those impacted by the storm.

Rai wreaked havoc across Vietnamese-held isles in the Spratly Islands. Observation tower in Southwest Cay recorded sustaining winds up to 180 km/h (112 mph) and gusts of 200 km/h (124 mph) during the afternoon of December 18, before being knocked down. No casualties were reported in Vietnam.