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Super Typhoon Rai’s Death Toll in Philippines Is Climbing


MANILA — The death toll from a powerful typhoon that struck the Philippines last week is continuing to rise as rescuers reach more devastated areas, with more than 140 people now believed to have been killed, officials said on Sunday.

About half of the 142 deaths reported so far from Super Typhoon Rai were in the island province of Bohol in the central Visayas region, a tourist destination known for its diving spots and coral reefs.

The governor of Bohol, Arthur Yap, said that as of noon Sunday, the typhoon was believed to have killed 72 people in the province, a toll based on field reports from community leaders.

“It is very clear that the damage sustained by Bohol is great and all-encompassing,” Mr. Yap said. He said he had seen vast destruction of coastal communities in an aerial survey aboard a military plane.

The Philippines’ national disaster agency, which often takes time to confirm deaths reported by officials around the country, was still reporting a count of 31 deaths from the typhoon on Sunday, a toll that did not reflect the figures provided by Mr. Yap and from other areas.

The central province of Cebu and Cagayan de Oro city on the island of Mindanao were also among the worst-hit areas, and just off Mindanao, officials were trying to get aid to island of Siargao, a popular surfing destination.

The typhoon made landfall on the island on Thursday, with gusts of up to 168 miles per hour, before tearing west across the country. Rai was classified as a super typhoon after reaching land, a designation comparable to a Category 5 hurricane in the United States.

Siargao was still cut off as of Sunday. Message boards on social media filled up with the names of people who were still unaccounted for.

The typhoon, known as Odette under the Philippines’ separate naming system, was the 15th to hit the country this year. It dumped heavy rain over large areas, and large parts of the central and southern Philippines sustained damage, with many waterways overflowing their banks.

The chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, Senator Richard Gordon, said Rai was one of the strongest storms ever known to have struck the Philippines, which endures an average of 20 typhoons a year.

“Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas. Homes, hospitals, schools and community buildings have been ripped to shreds,” he said in a statement. “Our volunteers are providing urgent relief for people who have lost everything, including food, drinking water, first aid, medical care, and somewhere safe to shelter.”

The most powerful storm on record in the Philippines was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which killed about 6,500 people and caused widespread destruction in 2013.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has started an emergency appeal for nearly $22 million to finance relief and recovery efforts for an estimated 400,000 people in the Philippines affected by Rai.

In Bohol, Mr. Yap said provincial workers were working overtime to restore power and telecommunications facilities, and that many residents did not have access to clean drinking water.

He said a Philippine Navy vessel would ship out from Manila on Monday with emergency aid for Bohol, but he appealed for more help from the national government, citing in particular the need for generators to run water refilling stations across the island.



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