Philippines: Tens of thousands flee Hurricane Rai

"Catastrophic winds can cause serious damage to buildings and vegetation"


Hurricane Rai, which brings strong winds and torrential rains, is threateningly approaching the central and southern Philippines on Thursday, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes, according to authorities. Extreme weather conditions have a wind speed of 165 kilometers per hour, which may have risen to 195 km / h when it arrives in the afternoon (local time) on the tourist island of Siargao, according to the Philippine Meteorological Service.

"Catastrophic winds can cause (…) severe damage to buildings and vegetation," the agency warned, citing the risk of deadly flooding along the coastline. According to the Philippine Disaster Prevention Service, some 45.000 people have fled their homes and taken refuge, including several tourists, who enjoy the island's famous beaches and diving areas.

Hurricane Rai will hit the Philippines quite late this season. Most tropical cyclones in the Pacific Ocean form between July and October. The Category 4 hurricane is expected to move from the east to the west islands of the archipelago in the coming days, passing through the islands of Mindanao and Palauan, before moving in the direction of the South China Sea to Vietnam.

Airlines have canceled dozens of flights, and authorities have banned many ferries and road travel in parts of the central and southern Philippines, shutting down thousands of people, mostly in ports. The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7.600 islands, among the countries considered most vulnerable to climate change, is hit each year by about twenty tropical cyclones and hurricanes that often wreak havoc, turning homes into debris, sweeping infrastructure and crops. .