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Death toll ticks up from Philippines typhoon as rescue efforts continue

At least 108 people killed in the Philippines as officials on devastated island of Bohol reported 72 deaths but downed communications means death toll could rise.

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

At least 108 people have been reported killed in the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, as efforts to deliver water and food to devastated islands ramped up.

Arthur Yap, governor of the popular tourist destination Bohol, said on Sunday that the number of fatalities on the devastated island had reached 72.

That took the overall number of reported deaths to 108, according to official data.

The governor said 10 people were still missing on the island and 13 were injured after the storm smashed into the country on Thursday as a super typhoon packing wind speeds of 195 kilometres per hour.

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Yap said only 33 out of 48 mayors were able to report back to him due to downed communication, raising fears the death toll could rise in the flood-hit province where some residents were rescued from their rooftops.

Thousands of military, police, coast guard and fire personnel are being deployed to assist in search and rescue efforts in the worst-affected areas of the vast archipelago.

Heavy machinery, like backhoes and front-end loaders, are also being sent to help clear roads blocked by fallen power poles and trees. 

Charities and emergency services have appealed for donations.

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

‘Reminiscent’ of Haiyan

There has also been widespread destruction on Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao islands, which bore the brunt of Rai when it slammed into the Philippines.

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

Haiyan, called Yolanda in the Philippines, was the deadliest cyclone on record in the country, leaving more than 7,300 people dead or missing.

Rai’s wind speeds eased to 150 kph as it barrelled across the country, dumping torrential rain, uprooting trees and destroying wooden structures.

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

Typhoon season

Rai hit the Philippines late in the typhoon season – most cyclones typically develop between July and October.

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.

The Philippines – ranked among the globe’s most vulnerable nations to the impacts of climate change – is hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons every year, which typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure in already impoverished areas.

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