Updated: The death toll in a horrific Philippines typhoon currently stands at 208, the BBC reports. At least 52 others are missing, and 239 were hurt, but it's difficult to establish exact numbers as communications remain cut off to certain areas. Landslides and flooding may have killed even more. Rescue teams describe the devastation as "complete carnage," with a Red Cross official saying, "There are some areas that look like it has been bombed worse than World War Two." There are also widespread power outages and a shortage of water. Our original story from Saturday follows:
A powerful typhoon left at least 19 people dead, knocked down power and communications in entire provinces, and wrought widespread destruction mostly in the central Philippines, officials said Saturday. A governor said her island has been "leveled to the ground." Typhoon Rai blew away Friday night into the South China Sea after rampaging through southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 people in its path were evacuated to safety in advance in a preemptive move officials say may have saved a lot of lives, per the AP. At its strongest, Rai packed sustained winds of 121mph and gusts of up to 168mph, one of the most powerful storms in recent years to hit the disaster-prone Southeast Asian archipelago, which lies between the Pacific Ocean and the South China Sea.
The typhoon slammed into the country's southeastern coast Thursday, but the extent of casualties and destruction remained unclear two days after, with entire provinces still without power and cellphone connection. The government's main disaster-response agency said at least 31 people were reported killed, many after being hit by falling trees, but it added it was validating most of the deaths. At least three were injured and one was missing. Officials on Dinagat Islands, one of the first provinces to be lashed by the typhoon's ferocious winds, remained cut off Saturday due to downed power and communication lines. But its governor, Arlene Bag-ao, managed to post a statement on the province's website to say that the island of about 180,000 "has been leveled to the ground." She pleaded for food, water, temporary shelters, fuel, hygiene kits, and medical supplies. She said only a few casualties have been reported in the capital so far because other towns remain isolated.
Vice Gov. Nilo Demerey managed to reach a nearby province and told the DZMM radio network that at least six residents died and that "almost 95%" of Dinagat homes now have no roof. "We're currently doing repairs because even our evacuation centers were destroyed," Demerey said. "There are no shelters—the churches, gymnasium, schools, public markets, and even the capitol were all shattered." President Rodrigo Duterte said he would look for money to help the provinces. He plans to visit the devastated region this weekend. About 20 storms and typhoons batter the Philippines each year. The archipelago is located in the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire" region, making it one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.
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