Giant Typhoon Leaves at Least 31 Dead, Levels Philippines ‘To the Ground’

by Samantha Whidden

Following Super Typhoon Rai making landfall on Friday (December 17th), it has been reported that at least 31 people are dead, and there is widespread destruction throughout the central Philippines. 

As previously reported, Super Typhoon Rai left the Philippines’ southern and central island provinces in complete turmoil as it struck the archipelago. Images captured during and after the typhoon showed uprooted trees, completely leveled homes and buildings, as well as entangled power lines. 

According to The New York Post, more than 300,000 people in Typhoon Rai’s path were evacuated in advance in a pre-emptive move by officials. This saved way more lives. Typhoon Rai had managed to sustain winds of 121 mph and gust up to 168 mph. This is notably one of the most powerful typhoons in recent years to hit the Southern Asian archipelago. 

The New York Post further reports that the Philippines’ national police have stated that 31 people are dead. They did not provide any other details. But the government’s disaster-response agency actually reported a much lower death toll, which was 12. This was mostly villagers that were hit by falling trees. The agency explained that it has to carefully validate each death. 

Dinagat Islands Governor Reveals Images of Her Province Post Typhoon Rai

Officials on Dinagat Islands, one of the first provinces to experience Typhoon Rai’s destruction, state the province remains cut off on Saturday. This is due to the down power lines. The Islands’ governor, Arlene Kaka Bag-ao, states that the province has been completely leveled to the ground. She shared images on her Facebook page as well. This includes aerial views of some parts of San Jose, Dinagat Islands. 

Bag-ao also shared images of her office in the typhoon’s aftermath. “We are alive, my companions. I just included in the pictures the look of my house and office at the Capitol. This is the only available pictures on my phone before low battery…”

Bag-ao is also asking for food, water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits, and medical supplies. She did reveal that a few causalities so far. But this is due to other towns remaining isolated and unable to communicate.

Bag-ao also met with President Rodrigo Duterte and other government officials to discuss the needs of their provinces post-Typhoon Rai. She then went further into the mainland to connect with different organizations and individuals who seek to provide assistance.

Bag-ao says that she and her Provincial Government task forces are managing the response on the ground. She is also networking with various government agencies, private groups, and the media. She is still working to restore telecommunications among the seven municipalities and outside Dinagat Islands.

Bag-ao goes on to address those who are asking how to enter Dinagat Islands to give help. She notes that the island is open, but she wants to emphasize caution.