Super Typhoon Rai leaves more than 30 dead in Philippines

MANILA — Super Typhoon Rai exited the Philippines on Saturday, displacing thousands and leaving at least 31 people dead, officials said.

Locally known as Odette, the typhoon made landfall on Thursday on the southeastern island of Siargao — a tourist hot spot popular among surfers — then moved northwest, passing through major cities including Cebu and Cagayan de Oro. The typhoon packed sustained winds of 121 mph and gusts up to 168 mph, according to the Associated Press.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said at least 31 people were reported killed, adding that it was still validating 27 of the deaths. The government’s primary disaster-response agency said more than 370,000 people were affected by the typhoon.

The disaster agency’s spokesman, Mark Cashean Timbal, told The Washington Post that casualty reports were still coming in from local units, “so the count may still change.” After the storm felled trees and power lines, communication to many areas was not established until Saturday. Others areas were still out of reach.

Across the central and southern Philippines, video of the devastation emerged. Social media was flooded with Filipinos asking for help, support, and donations.

More than 300,000 people have been displaced, the disaster agency reported, possibly leaving thousands without homes ahead of Christmas.

People were trapped on rooftops as waters quickly rose. The Philippine Coast Guard with orange life jackets rescued people in parts of central and western Visayas.

My 20+ year old piano. This is probably my last chance to play this piano before it’s thrown out. Effect kaayo ang baha ug ulan sa background. Please Bagyong Odette, stop Na

#BagyongOdette

Posted by Niel Jon Salcedo on Wednesday, December 15, 2021

In Cagayan de Oro, one resident’s performance on a piano in a knee-deep flood to the sound of rain went viral on social media. Niel Jon Salcedo wrote, “Probably my last piano playing before it is junked.” Later, local media reported that he had fled to safety.

He played an excerpt from “River Flows in You” by the South Korean pianist Yiruma, in an image that drew parallels with musicians playing as the Titanic went down.

Photos and videos out of Siargao show its airport ceiling collapsed and farmlands flooded over. “Devastation everywhere” – Photos and videos from Siargao show the collapse of its airport ceiling and flood damage. Lines are still long at fuel and water filling stations.

The Philippines is no stranger to typhoons. The most devastating in recent years included Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which left an official count of around 6,000 dead. Major storms could become more common due to climate change.

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