Massive evacuation of thousands in Philippines due to Typhoon Rai
Powerful Typhoon Rai landed in the Southeastern part of the Philippines. The typhoon quickly strengthened to a Category 5 storm making it the most powerful typhoon to hit the country this year.
Typhoon Rai made its landfall on Thursday resulting in the mass evacuation of 100,000 residents and cancellations of flights. According to officials, people from high-risk areas were the priority for evacuation. As they are at risk of landslides, tidal surges, and flash floods.
In addition, floodwaters have reached chest level in low-lying areas. Forecasters reported that Typhoon Rai has maximum sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour. With gusts of up to 230kph blowing strong winds from the Pacific Ocean to the Siargao Islands.
Although there are no reported casualties, government officials stay alert for any unexpected flash flood recurrences. However, there are reports of power outages in most of the affected areas. Moreover, the coast guard staff and military went hand-in-hand in helping residents that were stuck in fast-rising floods.
On the other hand, the Philippine coast guard said they had prohibited any vessels from transporting. Whereby, almost 4,000 passengers, cargo, and ferry ship workers in ports are stranded. The local government units also shut down workplaces and schools in high-risk areas.
According to disaster-response units, there are almost 10,000 villages in the projected path of the typhoon. Typhoon Rai has a 400-kilometer wide rain coverage.
Typhoon Rai was the 15th typhoon to enter the Philippines this year. The typhoon hit the vacation island of Siargao the hardest. It’s located in the southern province of Surigao del Norte.
The disaster response agency said that since there’s a massive evacuation, there are complications of keeping the people safely distanced from each other. Especially with the country’s first detected infection of the Omicron variant. While there are ongoing vaccinations in provinces, the government agencies stopped it temporarily due to the increment bad weather.
By record, the pandemic hit it the hardest in the Philippines among all the other Southeast Asian countries. There were 50,000 deaths and 2.8 million positive Covid cases. In recent weeks Covid restrictions have been lifted and the government allowed more businesses to open. This was following the drop in Covid cases after an intensified vaccination campaign.
However, due to the first detection of the Omicron case this week, the government is reminding people to avoid crowded places and get vaccines.
Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone said he halted the vaccinations in his region due to Typhoon Rai. Although more than 70% of the residents have received at least one shot. But the governor has concerns that the vaccines in storage at Eastern Samar will expire in the next coming months.
Evardone also stated that overcrowding is inevitable in evacuation areas. Considering the limited number of evacuation centers and the number of people evacuated.
Evardone added, “It’s impossible to observe social distancing, it will be tough. What we do is cluster evacuees by families. We don’t mix different people in the same place as a precaution.”
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