Troops race to deliver aid to Philippine typhoon survivors

Death toll from Philippines typhoon passes 30

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Surigao City: On Saturday, official statistics showed that at least 33 people were killed in the strongest typhoon that hit the Philippines this year, and a charity reported that the island bearing the brunt suffered “astonishing” damage.

More than 300,000 people fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Typhoon Rai ravaged the southern and central regions of the archipelago, knocking out communications and electricity in many areas, ripping off roofs and toppling concrete power poles.

Rai was a super typhoon when it smashed into the popular tourist island of Siargao on Thursday, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometres per hour (120 miles per hour).

Aerial photos shared by the military showed that the town of General Luna was extensively damaged. Many surfers and vacationers flocked to the town before Christmas. The roof of the building was demolished and debris was scattered on the ground.

“Everything was flying, it was as if it was the end of the world,” Raphy Repdos, a tour operator visiting the island when the storm hit, told AFP.

The neighbouring island of Dinagat had been “levelled to the ground” by the storm, Governor Arlene Bag-ao wrote on Facebook, saying houses, boats and fields were destroyed.

“Walls and roofs were torn and blown off by Odette like paper,” Bag-ao said, using the local name for the typhoon.

“We have a dwindling supply of food and water. Electricity and telecommunications are down.”

The wind speed in Rai dropped to 150 km/h when raging across the country, and heavy rain flooded the village, with uprooted trees and broken wood structures.

The National Weather Forecaster said it appeared over the South China Sea on Saturday and headed to Vietnam.

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