Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) blew out of the Philippines on Friday but left a trail of devastation and at least a dozen deaths, according to officials, while independent reports warned that the toll could go higher.
The storm, known locally as Odette, brought heavy damage to Cagayan de Oro, a province on southern Mindanao Island, as well as on Siargao, a tear-drop shaped island, which is a surfing paradise northeast of Mindanao.
The Office of Civil Defense in Manila confirmed the death toll as of early Friday evening. Most of the victims were in the central Visayas region, which was pummeled by Odette.
“We have 12 reported deaths, seven reported missing and two injured individuals,” said Mark Timbal, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesman.
He said deaths were reported on the island of Guimaras, Negros Occidental, Southern Leyte and Bukidnon provinces, Iloilo, Cebu and Lapu-Lapu cities.
Local officials and police who were not authorized by the disaster relief agency to speak to reporters said the toll would likely be higher because there were reports of other people dying either by drowning or being crushed by debris.
By Friday afternoon, the eye of the storm was over the South China Sea about 105 km (65 miles) northeast of Puerto Princesa City in western Palawan province, according to the state meteorological agency (PAGASA). Odessa, with gusts up to 205 kph (127 mph), had weakened from a peak of 270 kph (168 mph) when it was classified a super typhoon after making landfall on Thursday.
Gov. Francisco Matugas of Surigao del Norte province, which includes Siargao island, painted a grim picture for the popular holiday destination.
“The whole island is totally devastated with an estimated damage of 20 billion pesos [U.S. $400 million],” he said in a report aired over radio in Manila.
“No communication up to now,” he said, adding that at least two deaths were reported in Siargao.
Full story: BenarNews
Camille Elemia and Froilan Gallardo
Manila and Cagayan de Oro, Philippines
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