Troops race to deliver aid to Philippine typhoon survivors

The path of deadly Typhoon Rai across the Philippines which struck Thursday, December 16.

Troops raced Tuesday to deliver food and water to typhoon-ravaged islands of the Philippines as charities appealed for aid to help hundreds of thousands left homeless by the deadly storm.

At least 375 people were killed and hundreds injured when Typhoon Rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the archipelago on Thursday, wiping out wooden houses, uprooting trees and knocking out power across entire islands.

More than 400,000 people were sheltering in evacuation centres or with relatives, the national disaster agency said, after their homes were damaged or destroyed by the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.

A state of calamity has been declared on the island where people sat under umbrellas next to their empty water drums. 

“If you won’t send money to buy food, send soldiers and police because there will be looting here,” Yap warned during an interview with DZBB.

On nearby Negros island, Carl Arapoc, 23, told AFP there was no electricity in his city and his family was using “driftwood” to cook.

“It was really, really bad, the strongest storm I ever witnessed in my life,” said Tal Oran, an Israeli living in the Siargao tourist town General Luna.

Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has ordered the military to deploy ships, boats, aircraft and trucks to deliver food, drinking water and medical supplies to survivors, who have been struggling for basic necessities.

“The emergency appeal by IFRC helps us to act swiftly and do all we can to help people and families get back on their feet,” said Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines.

The UK has pledged around $1 million to the IFRC effort, while Canada promised about $2.3 million in assistance and the European Union nearly $2 million.

“Never in my entire life have I encountered such a typhoon,” said Catholic Bishop Antonieto Cabajog in Surigao.

Rai hit the Philippines late in the typhoon season: most cyclones develop between July and October.

The state weather agency warned a low pressure area was moving towards Mindanao and had a “30-40% chance to develop into a tropical depression”.

The Philippines — ranked among the most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change — is hit by an average of 20 storms every year.

The death toll from Rai is not expected to get close to that number.

Originally published as Troops race to deliver aid to Philippine typhoon survivors

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