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Super Typhoon Rai death toll in Philippines rises to 375, police say

Residents pick through the wreckage of their homes in Talisay, Philippines, on Dec. 18, 2021. (Jay Labra/AP)
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MANILA — The death toll from Super Typhoon Rai, which exited the Philippines on Saturday, has risen to at least 375, with another 500 injured and 56 missing, police said Monday.

The typhoon, known here as Odette, made landfall Thursday on the southeastern island of Siargao, a tourist hot spot popular among surfers, then moved northwest, passing through major cities including Cebu and Cagayan de Oro.

More than 700,000 people were affected by the typhoon in central island provinces, and many perished amid flash floods, landslides and falling trees, according to the Associated Press.

A month-old baby was among those rescued from floodwaters after the country was hit by a category 5-equivalent typhoon on Dec. 16. (Video: The Washington Post)

Video footage showed devastation across the central and southern Philippines. Filipinos took to social media to call for rescue, donations and help finding relatives.

People were trapped on rooftops as waters quickly rose. In parts of the central and western Visayas regions, Philippine coast guard rescuers in orange life jackets guided people from roofs to evacuation boats.

In Cagayan de Oro, one man’s performance on a piano in a knee-deep flood to the sound of rain went viral on social media. “Probably my last time playing this piano before it gets junked,” wrote Niel Jon Salcedo.

He played an excerpt from “River Flows in You” by the South Korean pianist Yiruma, in an image that drew parallels with musicians playing as the Titanic sank. Local media reported that he later fled to safer ground.

Photos and videos from Siargao show its airport ceiling collapsed and farmlands flooded. Vice President Leni Robredo viewed the effects in Cebu.

“Devastation everywhere,” she tweeted. “Roads still being cleared of electric lines and posts that toppled down, and lines are long at gas & water refilling stations.”

The Philippines has experience with typhoons. The most devastating in recent years included Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which left an official count of around 6,000 dead. Climate change has raised fears of major storms becoming more frequent.

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