Death Toll Rises Days after Super Typhoon Rai Slams Philippines

Direct Relief is coordinating with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management and other local relief organizations to route medical supplies and financial support to impacted communities..

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Typhoons

Infrared imagery of Typhoon Rai, known in the Philippines as Typhoon Odette. was captured as the then-super typhoon (winds greater than 150 mph ) made landfall on Siargao Island in the Philippines around 1:30 p.m. local time on Thursday, Dec. 16. (Image via NESDIS/NOAA)

The death toll in the Philippines continues to rise days after Super Typhoon Rai made landfall as the fifteenth—and strongest—storm to impact the country this year. 

On Monday, the Philippine National Police confirmed 375 people were killed in the storm, while 500 were injured and 56 remain missing. 

Super Typhoon Rai, known locally as Odette, made landfall on Thursday in Siargao, part of the Mindanao island group. The storm reached winds of up to 168 mph, making it comparable to a Category 5 hurricane. In total, the typhoon touched down nine times as it swept west across the country, toppling homes and power lines, uprooting trees, and unleashing a deluge of rain over the communities in its path. Nearly half a million people were displaced, according to Al-Jazeera.  

Homes, hospitals, schools, and community buildings were ripped to shreds, said the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, while flooding and landslides have made some communities inaccessible. 

Power and service were partially restored on Monday after the storm initiated widespread blackouts, according to the country’s biggest telecommunications and digital services provider. The outages have hampered relief operations, though the government and other relief organizations, including Direct Relief, are mobilizing to deliver goods, medical resources, and set up shelters. 

The majority of the deaths reported so far have been in Bohol, an island province in the central Vasayas region and popular tourist destination. The islands of Cebu, Negros, and Palawan were also severely affected.

Super Typhoon Rai strengthened from a Category 1 storm to a Category 5 the day before making landfall, undergoing what’s called rapid intensification—or an increase in winds of at least 30 mph over a 24 hour period. The process has become characteristic of typhoons and hurricanes in a warming climate, according to the Washington Post. 

Rai impacted some of the same regions devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which killed roughly 6,500 people and ranks as one of the country’s deadliest storms on record. 

Direct Relief Response 

Direct Relief’s emergency response team is in communication with the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management, or AHA Centre, as well as with long-term local partners IPI Foundation in Cebu, PH-WADAH in Palawan, and HFI in Salcedo, Eastern Samar.  

Direct Relief is coordinating with the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Philippines Department of Health to send emergency supplies and provide financial support for emergency relief operations.

The AHA Centre has also offered the remaining Direct Relief-funded emergency supplies from their disaster response depot in Manila to support the national effort. 

Direct Relief will continue to assess needs and respond accordingly. 

Ledrolen Manriquez and Gordon Willcock contributed to this report.

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