Typhoon Rai
Philippine Coast Guard personnel assist in the evacuation of residents due to flooding caused by Typhoon Rai in Cagayan De Oro City, Philippines, December 16, 2021. Image Credit: Philippine Coast Guard/ Handout via REUTERS


  • Super-typhoon Rai makes landfall in island provinces in southern Philippines, toppling trees, ripping tin roofs and knocking down power.
  • Forecasters said it further strengthened with sustained winds of 260 km/h (160 mph) with gusts over 300 km/h (185 mph).
  • Nearly 100,000 people have been evacuated to safe ground as "storm surge" expected.


MANILA: Typhoon Rai weakened slightly late on Thursday and into early Friday after it made its seventh landfall in Cebu, weathermen said. The typhoon now carries maximum sustained winds of 175 km/h and gusts of up to 240 km/h, while moving westward at 35 km/h.

Rai flooded areas
Image Credit: Twitter

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration’s (Pagasa), is its 2am bulletin (December 17, 2021), said Typhoon Rai (locally known as “Odette”) was about to emerge over Panay Gulf after traversing Negros Island.

Thousands had fled their homes and beachfront resorts and sought refuge in government evacuation centres as super typhoon Rai lashed the country Thursday, with authorities warning of "very destructive" winds and torrential rain.

The weather bureau also issued a flood Bulletin #5 for Cagayan De Oro River Basin, issued at 12:00 AM, 17 December 2021. Rai is seen moving westward where it will emerging over the Sulu Sea on Thursday morning. It will then cross the northern or central portion of Palawan in the afternoon before move over the West Philippine Sea.

“Odette may still see some slight weakening as it crosses the western portion of Visayas and mainland Palawan, but it is forecast to remain as a typhoon,” said Pagasa in its advisory.

“Re-intensification is likely once Odette emerges over the West Philippine Sea. However, continuous weakening may ensue beginning Sunday as the typhoon becomes exposed to increasing vertical wind shear and the surge of the Northeast Monsoon,” the agency said.

Earlier report

Tens of thousands of people have evacuated their homes in the Philippines as the archipelago gets hammered by "Super Typhoon" Rai (locally known as Odette), which made landfall on the country's east coast on Thursday.

A rescue worker helps a girl wade through flooding caused by Typhoon Rai in Cagayan de Oro City, the Philippines, on December 16.
A rescue worker helps a girl wade through flooding caused by Typhoon Rai in Cagayan de Oro City, the Philippines, on December 16. Image Credit: Philippine Coast Guard / AFP

The storm, the 15th this year so far, rapidly intensified on Thursday morning and was upgraded from a typhoon to a “super typhoon” category. Some of the islands are unoccupied, but many have millions of residents.

By the time it made landfall on Siargao Island on the central east coast, it had reached sustained winds of 260 km/h (160 mph) with gusts over 300 km/h (185 mph) — equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic.

Rai is also dumping heavy rains along its path.

Coast guard personnel were rescuing residents stranded by chest-deep waters in a southern province, where pounding rains swamped villages in brownish water. In southern Cagayan de Oro city, footage showed two rescuers struggling to keep a month-old baby inside a laundry basin above the waters and shielded from the wind and rain with an umbrella.

Forecasters said Typhoon Rai further strengthened with sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 270 kph (168 mph) as it blew from the Pacific Ocean into the Siargao Islands. There were no immediate reports of casualties or major damage.

"I'm scared and praying here in my house that this stops now. The wind outside is so strong it's cutting down trees," Teresa Lozano, a resident of eastern MacArthur town in coastal Leyte province, told DZMM radio by telephone, adding roofs of nearby houses were damaged and that her farming village had lost power.

Disaster-response officials said about 10,000 villages lie in the projected path of the typhoon, which has a 400-kilometer (248-mile)-wide rain band and is one of the strongest to hit the country this year.

The coast guard said it has grounded all vessels, stranding nearly 4,000 passengers and ferry and cargo ship workers in dozens of southern and central ports. Several mostly domestic flights have been canceled and schools and workplaces were shut in the most vulnerable areas.

More than 98,000 people have been evacuated to safety, the government's disaster-response agency said. Crowding in evacuation centers was complicating efforts to keep people safely distanced after authorities detected the country's first infections caused by the omicron variant of the coronavirus. Intensified vaccinations were also halted in provinces likely to experience stormy weather.

Flights cancelled

More than 98,000 people have been evacuated to safer ground, according to the disaster-risk reduction and monitoring agency. Philippine Airlines Inc. and Cebu Air Inc. have canceled dozens of flights, while about 4,000 have been stranded in various ports as sea travel was halted. The government also delayed COVID-19 vaccinations for people living along the typhoon's path.

Parts of the Philippines already began receiving torrential rainfall early in the week; in central Misamis Oriental province, the Agay-ayan River overflowed on Tuesday, flooding streets and homes with muddy brown water.

Thousands of villages in the storm's projected path are at high risk of flooding and landslide, with the region's soil already saturated and unsteady from the week's heavy rain, according to the country's Mines and Geosciences Bureau, which urged local authorities to prepare evacuation plans.

Mindanao and Visayas getting hit

The storm is expected to travel through the country's central and southern regions. Some of the worst conditions are expected in Surigao Province, which lies on the northern tip of Mindanao, one of the country's major islands.

Rai residents evacuate
Residents sleep inside a sports complex turned into an evacuation center in Dapa town, Surigao, the Philippines, on December 16.

The storm is also expected to hit a number of provinces in the country's Visayas region, a central group of islands. More than 20 million people live in the Visayas, according to 2020 official figures.

In Surigao Province, more than 2,600 people have been evacuated as of Wednesday evening, according to the state-owned Philippine News Agency.

Pounded by strong wind and rain

"We are getting pounded already by strong wind and rain," said Governor Ben Evardone of Samar Province, located in Eastern Visayas.

In Tacloban City, just outside Samar, hundreds of residents have also taken shelter in evacuation sites. Many lived through Super Typhoon Yolanda, which killed more than 6,000 Filipinos in 2013 — and they're not taking any chances now.

"We are concerned that this storm is taking the same path as the typhoon in 2011, and the other in 2013," said Karen Janes Ungar, the country representative for the humanitarian organization Catholic Relief Services Philippines. "However we have learned a lot from both of those previous disasters, and in a lot of disaster preparedness ... for this emergency."

The biggest concern, she added, are smaller towns on the coast, home to fishermen and poorer populations that might not have access to government announcements or are unable to evacuate.

Flights cancelled

Airlines have cancelled dozens of flights, while transport authorities banned sea and land travel in the central and southern Philippines, leaving thousands stranded at ports.

Humanitarian organisations and aid agencies are also on the ground, working with local authorities to prepare for the storm and assist in evacuations. Teams from the Philippine Red Cross are spread out across the east coast, helping organise first aid teams, food and water, and supplies such as blankets and safety equipment.

"Filipinos are tough but this Super Typhoon is a bitter blow for millions of people who are still recovering from devastating storms, floods and Covid-19 in the past year," said Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon in a news release on Thursday.

15th typhoon this 2021

Super Typhoon Rai is the 15th storm to hit the country this year — compounding the struggles of people still recovering. Millions are still rebuilding their homes and livelihoods, especially after several devastating storms late last year, according to the Red Cross.

The fourth-highest signal in a five-step warning system is hoisted in several provinces, which means "very destructive typhoon-force winds" will prevail within 12 hours. There's a high risk of storm surge which may cause "life-threatening floods" in low-lying coastal areas.

An average of 20 typhoons pass through the Philippines each year. In 2013, Super Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,300 people.

The Southeast Asian nation has incurred $10 billion in losses from climate-related hazards over a decade, the Finance Department said early this year.