- According to officials, a powerful typhoon slammed into the southeastern Philippines on Thursday, sweeping across island provinces.
- The Philippines is one of the worst-affected countries in Southeast Asia, with more than 2.8 million confirmed infections and more than 50,000 deaths.
Officials stated a powerful typhoon slammed into the southeastern Philippines on Thursday and swept across island provinces, evacuating nearly 100,000 people from high-risk areas devastated by flash floods, landslides, and tidal surges.
Typhoon Rai blew into the Siargao Islands from the Pacific Ocean, with sustained winds of 185 km/h (115 mph) and gusts of up to 230 km/h (143 mph), according to forecasters.
There were no quick reports of casualties or significant damage, but residents stranded by rapidly rising waters were assisted by military and coast guard rescue personnel.
According to disaster-response officials, about 10,000 villages are in the projected path of the typhoon, which has a 400-kilometer (248-mile) wide rain band and is one of the strongest to hit the country this year.
According to the Philippine coast guard, all vessels have been grounded, stranding nearly 4,000 passengers, ferry and cargo ship workers in dozens of southern and central ports. Several domestic flights have been canceled, and schools and workplaces in the most vulnerable areas have been closed.
According to the government’s disaster-response agency, more than 98,000 people have been evacuated to safety. After discovering the country’s first infections caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus, authorities struggled to keep people safely separated in evacuation centers. Intensive vaccinations were also halted in provinces where storms were expected.
The Philippines is one of the worst-affected countries in Southeast Asia, with more than 2.8 million confirmed infections and more than 50,000 deaths. Following an intensified vaccination campaign that helped reduce infections to a few hundred from over 26,000 in September, quarantine restrictions have been eased, and more businesses have been allowed to reopen in recent weeks.
However, this week’s discovery of omicron cases has raised the alarm, and the government has renewed its calls for people to avoid crowds and get vaccinated as soon as possible.
The governor of Eastern Samar province, Ben Evardone, said the typhoon forced him to halt vaccinations in his nearly half-million-strong region.
More than 70% of villagers in the province have received at least one vaccination, and Evardone is concerned that some vaccines stored in Eastern Samar will expire in the coming months.
In his province’s limited number of evacuation centers, where more than 32,000 people have been relocated to safety, he said overcrowding is unavoidable.
“It will be extremely difficult to observe social distancing,” Evardone told The Associated Press. “We sort evacuees into groups based on their families. As a precaution, we don’t mix different people in the same place.”
Every year, the Philippines is hit by about 20 storms and typhoons. The archipelago is also part of the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire,” making it one of the world’s most disaster-prone nations.
Source: CBC News
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