Hurricane Rai, the strongest to hit the Philippines this year, uprooted trees, caused power outages and flooded several villages in the archipelago, leaving at least 12 dead.
More than 300,000 people were forced to flee their homes on Thursday due to the hurricane and about 18,000 are still in shelters this afternoon, according to the Philippine National Disaster Management Agency.
Due to the hurricane, telecommunications have been cut off in some areas, while roofs of buildings have been removed.
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The hurricane is approaching Palauan
The National Security Agency confirmed today that a man was killed in Bukidnon province. At the same time, the police of the province of West Negros announced the death of four people, among them an elderly man who was crushed by his house which collapsed after a tree fell.
This afternoon, Hurricane Rai was approaching Palawan Island, a popular tourist destination. At night it is expected to leave the Philippines and cross the South China Sea in the direction of Vietnam.
Rai was described as a “super hurricane” – the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane in the US – when he arrived on the tourist island of Shargao yesterday, accompanied by winds of 195 kilometers per hour.
The intensity of the winds decreased a little
Today the winds have decreased in intensity slightly and reach 155 kilometers per hour, as announced by the meteorological service of the Philippines.
The National Agency pointed out that it is too early to assess the extent of the damage across the country.
“The damage is not as significant as that recently caused by other hurricanes of similar magnitude,” said Cassiano Monila, the agency’s deputy chief of operations.
“Most of the damage was done to infrastructure and houses,” he added, explaining that mass evacuations before the hurricane were aimed at saving lives.
Hurricane Rai will hit the Philippines quite late this season. Most tropical cyclones in the Pacific Ocean form between July and October.
Scientists have long warned that hurricanes are becoming increasingly powerful as they intensify as human-caused climate change accelerates.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, among the countries considered most vulnerable to climate change, is hit each year by about twenty tropical cyclones and hurricanes that often wreak havoc, turning homes into debris, sweeping infrastructure and crops. .
The deadliest hurricane to hit the Philippines was the “super hurricane” Haiyan in 2013, which killed or left more than 7,300 people missing.