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More than 90 dead in Philippines typhoon: officials

Storm Rai knocked out communications and electricity in many areas, ripping off roofs, toppling concrete power poles and flooding villages

More than 90 people have been killed in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, official tallies showed Sunday, as efforts to deliver water and food to devastated islands ramped up.

More than 300,000 people fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Typhoon Rai ravaged the southern and central regions of the archipelago.

Arthur Yap, governor of the popular tourist destination Bohol, said on his official Facebook page that mayors on the devastated island had so far reported 63 deaths in their towns.

That took the overall number of reported deaths to 99, according to the latest official figures.

Rai smashed into the country Thursday as a super typhoon packing wind speeds of 195 kilometres (120 miles) per hour.

Coast guard and naval vessels carrying food, water and medical supplies are being dispatched, while heavy machinery — like backhoes and front-end loaders — are being sent to help clear roads blocked by fallen power poles and trees. 

The organisation appealed for 20 million Swiss francs ($21.6 million) to fund urgent relief and recovery efforts.

– ‘Reminiscent’ of Haiyan –

Aerial photos shared by the military showed severe damage in the Siargao town of General Luna, where many surfers and holidaymakers had flocked ahead of Christmas, with buildings stripped of roofs and debris littering the ground.

Dinagat Governor Arlene Bag-ao has said the damage to the island’s landscape was “reminiscent if not worse” than that caused by Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.

“I saw how Typhoon Odette tore the provincial capitol apart, piece by piece,” Dinagat PIO Crisostomo told radio station DZBB, using the local name for Rai.

In Surigao City, on the northern tip of Mindanao, shattered glass from smashed windows, roofing, power lines and other debris were scattered in the streets.

“The wind was very strong,” he told AFP, adding now the storm was over he was struggling to find water and food.

It emerged over the South China Sea on Saturday and headed towards Vietnam.

Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change.

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