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More than 200 dead after typhoon slams Philippines

The death toll from the strongest typhoon to batter the Philippines this year has risen to more than 200, officials said.

At its strongest, Typhoon Rai packed sustained winds of 121 miles per hour and gusts of up to 168mph before it blew out into the South China Sea on Friday.

At least 208 people were killed, 52 remained missing and 239 were injured, according to the national police.

The toll was expected to increase because several towns and villages remained out of reach due to downed communications, power outages and clogged roads, although massive clean-up and repair efforts were underway with the improved weather.

Many of those who died were hit by falling trees or walls, drowned in flash floods or were buried alive in landslides.

A 57-year-old man was found dead hanging from a tree branch in Negros Occidental province and a woman was blown away by the wind and died in the same hard-hit region, police said.

Governor Arlene Bag-ao of Dinagat Islands, which was among the south-eastern provinces first hit by the typhoon, said Rai’s ferocity in her island province was worse than that of Typhoon Haiyan, which devastated the central Philippines in November 2013.

Ms Bag-ao told The Associated Press: “If it was like being in a washing machine before, this time there was like a huge monster that smashed itself everywhere, grabbed anything like trees and tin roofs and then hurled them everywhere.

“The wind was swirling north to south to east and west repeatedly for six hours. Some tin roof sheets were blown away then were tossed back.”

She said at least 14 villagers died and more than 100 others were injured by flying tin roofs, debris and glass shards and were treated in makeshift surgery rooms in damaged hospitals in Dinagat.

She added many more would have died if thousands of residents had not been evacuated from high-risk villages before the typhoon arrived.

Like several other typhoon-hit provinces, Dinagat remained without electricity and communications and many residents in the province, where the roofs of most houses and buildings were ripped off, needed construction materials, food and water.

Ms Bag-ao and other provincial officials travelled to nearby regions that had mobile phone signals to seek aid and coordinate recovery efforts with the national government.

More than 700,000 people were lashed by the typhoon in central island provinces, including more than 400,000 who had to be moved to emergency shelters.

Emergency crews were scrambling to restore electricity and mobile phone service in at least 227 cities and towns, officials said, adding that three regional airports were also damaged.

Ms Bag-ao and other officials expressed concern that their provinces may run out of fuel, which was in high demand due to the use of temporary power generators, including those used for refrigerated warehouses where large amounts of coronavirus vaccine stocks were stored.

Officials delivered vaccine shipments to many provinces for an intensified immunisation campaign, which was postponed last week due to the typhoon.

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