Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Super Typhoon Rai death toll has risen to 375 and displaced more than 481,000 people in the Philippines.
The destruction of Super Typhoon Rai
One of the strongest recorded storms to hit the southern Philippines, the Category 5 typhoon hit on Dec. 16 and rapidly ascended to winds of up to 260 kilometers per hour (approximately 162 miles per hour), according to CNN. Super Typhoon Rai, which is known locally as Odette, according to NPR, ripped through 10 regions in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao before passing on Dec. 18. It displaced more than 481,000 people, according to the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council via NPR. Based on the data of the National Police, there have been 375 verified deaths so far.
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According to Rappler, 500 more Filipinos were left injured, and 56 are still missing, with the death toll expected to increase as rescue operations continue. Over 604,000 families and more than 2 million people were affected by the typhoon.
“Worse than World War II”“Filipinos are tough, but this Super Typhoon is a bitter blow for millions of people who are still recovering from devastating storms, floods and Covid-19 in the past year,” said Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon.
The Category 5 storm brought on widespread landslides and flash floods and took down trees and power cables in the Philippines. It destroyed a total of 55,475 houses and damaged 89,614 more houses, according to Rappler. While there are more than 100,000 families staying in evacuation centers, over 70,000 remain outside.
“Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas,” Gordon told BBC. “Homes, hospitals, school and community buildings have been ripped to shreds. There are some areas that look like it has been bombed worse than World War II.” “We are starting to see the emergence of water-borne diseases, including diarrhea,” humanitarian manager of Save the Children Jerome Balinton told CNN. “Sanitation is a huge issue at these evacuation centers. With the Philippines still battling Covid-19, we worry for the safety of millions, including the most vulnerable children.” Approximately $3.2 million USD in livestock, machinery and crops were also lost, according to the Philippines’ disaster agency. NPR reported that President Rodrigo Duterte said the federal budget had already been exhausted due to the pandemic, but he pledged an immediate aid of 2 billion pesos (approximately $40 million) from next year’s budget to areas destroyed by the super typhoon. As of Tuesday, he announced an additional 10 billion pesos (approximately $200 million) for the country’s disaster cleanup, according to NPR. Duterte expressed concerns, however, that it cannot cover all the destruction that Super Typhoon Rai has caused.