Typhoon Rai Nears Philippines, Thousands Evacuated

Story Highlights
  • Typhoon Rai has the ferocity to become a super typhoon.
  • The typhoon has wind speeds of 165 km per hour.
  • Nearly 30,000 residents have been evacuated from their homes.

Philippines: Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from their homes in the Philippines as “one of the world’s strongest storms” of the year made landfall in mid-eastern parts of the island nation. The Philippine’s weather bureau, PAGASA, said Typhoon Rai made its first landfall in Surigao del Norte’s Siargao Island. It warned of “very destructive typhoon-force winds” in parts of the country and said it expected to see storm surges in coastal areas, as well as flooding and landslides in mountainous areas along the typhoon’s path. PAGASA said wind speed has accelerated to 195km per hour near the centre with gustiness of up to 240km per hour.

According to the national disaster mitigation agency, NDRRMC, 8 regions in the country have been placed on the highest level in emergency preparedness and response protocol. The 8 regions located in the central and southern group of islands in the Visayas and Mindanao areas have a combined population of more than 30 million. Several of those areas have been advised to conduct preemptive evacuation. Suspension of work and online classes has been ordered in some areas including the central province of Cebu, which has a population of 8 million. A COVID-19 vaccination drive has also been suspended in some parts of the country due to the typhoon.

As early as Wednesday afternoon, emergency workers in Tandag, a southern coastal city with a population of more than 62,000, evacuated 3,668 families, the local government said, adding that the evacuees were housed in 18 temporary shelters. In Cagayan de Oro, also in Mindanao is heavy rain and flooding in some areas of the city, which has a population of more than 675,000. PAGASA has meanwhile advised sailors to remain in port or take shelter as sea conditions “are risky for all types of sea vessels”. According to NDRRMC, the national government has placed on standby food and non-food supplies worth an estimated $6.6m. The Philippines is regularly hit by more than a dozen deadly typhoons every year.

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