DAPA, Philippines: Thousands of people in the Philippines fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Super Typhoon Rai slammed into the country on Thursday, with a charity warning the storm could hit coastal communities “like a freight train”.
Rai is the strongest storm to hit the disaster-prone archipelago this year. It was packing maximum sustained winds of 195-km an hour as it made landfall on the southern island of Siargao at 1:30 pm (0530 GMT), the state weather forecaster said.
“This monster storm is frightening and threatens to hit coastal communities like a freight train,” said Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines.
“We are very concerned that climate change is making typhoons more ferocious and unpredictable.” The weather bureau warned “very destructive” winds could cause “heavy to very heavy damage to structures and vegetation”, along with widespread flooding and rain-induced landslides.
“I’m really afraid,” said Nida Delito, 56, a restaurant owner on the central island province of Bohol, where the strong wind tore roofs off houses and uprooted trees. “Many typhoons have passed here before and it was fine — this one is different,” she told AFP.
More than 90,000 people sought emergency shelter as the storm charged across the Pacific Ocean, disaster agencies said. Evacuations were still under way in areas in the typhoon’s path.