More than 300 people have been killed in Hurricane Rai in the Philippines, which destroyed homes, flooded cities, severely damaged electricity and telecommunications networks, and forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes in central and southern parts of the country.
Navy aircraft and warships today carried aid to areas hit by the hurricane, as the country was hit by the strongest of the kind of weather that has hit the archipelago this year.
READ ALSO: 208 killed by Hurricane Rai in Philippines
“We are still assessing the damage, but it is huge,” Defense Minister Delphine Lorenzana told reporters today. “The first thing we do is address the issue of water and food supplies and the medical care of the injured.”
He instructed the armed forces to transport humanitarian aid using all available means and to send more troops if necessary.
The death toll has risen sharply today as rescue efforts continue in the affected areas.
One of the deadliest hurricanes
By 12.00 Cyprus time, the death toll due to Ray had reached 375, police said in a statement, making it one of the deadliest hurricanes to hit the state of Southeast Asia. The number of injured has risen to 500 while 56 people are missing.
The toll, which police say remains to be confirmed, far exceeds the 58 deaths recorded by the national disaster service, which said it was still verifying reports from affected areas.
In a tourist destination
Most of the deaths reported by police are in the central Visayas region, where Bohol province is one of the most popular tourist destinations, as well as the Karaga area in northeastern Mindanao.
Fear of more dead
Gov. Arthur Yap told CNN Philippines he feared the death toll could rise further as a lack of a telephone connection made it difficult to gather information.
Hurricane Rai, which struck the Philippines on Thursday, forced nearly 490,000 people to flee their homes.