Thousands Flee, Flights Canceled as Typhoon Threatens Philippines
(Bloomberg) -- Super Typhoon Rai slammed into the Philippines on Thursday with Category 5 strength, prompting thousands to flee to safer ground before one of the strongest storms this year hit land.
Rai, locally known as Odette, is packing winds of 140 knots (259 kilometers per hour) and gusts of up to 170 knots, according to the U.S. Joint Typhoon Warning Center. It made landfall on Siargao island, a tourist destination, in southern Philippines before heading to the South China Sea, according to the Philippine weather bureau.
The fourth-highest signal in a five-step warning system is hoisted in several provinces, which means “very destructive typhoon-force winds” will prevail within 12 hours. There’s a high risk of storm surge which may cause “life-threatening floods” in low-lying coastal areas.
More than 45,000 people have been evacuated to safer ground, according to the disaster-risk reduction and monitoring agency. Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. have canceled dozens of flights, while about 4,000 have been stranded in various ports as sea travel was halted. The government also delayed Covid-19 vaccinations for people living along the typhoon’s path.
An average of 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines each year. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people.
The Southeast Asian nation has incurred $10 billion in losses from climate-related hazards over a decade, the Finance Department said early this year.
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