Death toll in Philippines from its strongest typhoon of the year tops 400

<p>epa09654711 A handout photo made available by the Presidential Photographers Division (PPD) shows areas affected by typhoon Rai in Dinagat Islands, southern Philippines on 22 December 2021 (issued 23 December 2021). Philippine National Police data show
Rai was the 15th and deadliest typhoon to hit the South-east Asian nation this year. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

MANILA (REUTERS) - The death toll in Philippines from Typhoon Rai has crossed the 400 mark, the disaster agency said on Friday (Dec 31), as officials in some hard-hit provinces appealed for more supplies of food, water and shelter materials about two weeks after the storm struck.

Rai was the 15th and deadliest typhoon to hit the South-east Asian nation this year.

Reported deaths had reached 405, mostly due to drowning, fallen trees and landslides, Mr Ricardo Jalad, chief of the national disaster agency, told a news conference.

He said 82 were missing and 1,147 injured.

More than 530,000 houses were damaged, a third of which were totally wrecked, while damage to infrastructure and agriculture was estimated at 23.4 billion pesos (S$620 million), Mr Jalad said.

The typhoon affected nearly 4.5 million people, including about 500,000 sheltering in evacuation centres, government data showed.

It made landfall as a Category 5 typhoon on Dec 16, and left a trail of destruction in the provinces of Bohol, Cebu and Surigao del Norte, including the holiday island of Siargao and the Dinagat Islands.

In central Philippine provinces, disaster and government officials have been grappling with inadequate relief supplies for thousands of residents still without power and water.

"It caused massive destruction, and it was like a bomb was dropped in northern Bohol," Mr Anthony Damalerio, the chief of Bohol province's disaster agency, told Reuters.

A popular dive spot, Bohol reported 109 deaths and is seeking shelter kits, food and water, Mr Damalerio said.

Surigao del Norte Governor Francisco Matugas told ANC news channel: "Our problem is shelter, those who lost roofs, especially now that this is rainy season in the province."

The swathe of destruction left by Rai revived memories of typhoon Haiyan, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones ever recorded, which killed 6,300 people in the Philippines in 2013.

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