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Odette Survivors Cry for Help on Social Media as Extent of Devastation Becomes Clear

At least 12 dead in official count.
by The reportr team and Reuters
Dec 18, 2021
This aerial handout photo taken on December 17, 2021 and received from the Philippine Coast Guard shows damaged caused by Super Typhoon Rai after the storm crossed over Siargao island off the southern Philippine island of Mindanao.
Photo/s: Philippine Coast Guard/Handout

Filipinos who survived monster Typhoon Odette (Rai) appealed for help on Twitter and Facebook, posting photos of the devastation on the ground as authorities counted at least 18 fatalities.

As of Saturday morning, hashtags for hard-hit provinces Cebu, Siargao and Bohol had a combined total of roughly 30,000 Twitter posts. ABS-CBN was also trending as social media users again rued the absence of its free TV coverage.

The death toll from Odette rose to 18 on Saturday, and President Rodrigo Duterte feared it could climb further as authorities assess the effects. He is due to visit the disaster areas as early as Saturday.

Duterte said COVID-19 spending had already depleted this year's budget.

"I'm not so much worried about damage to structures," Duterte said in a televised briefing with disaster officials.

"My fear is if many people died. I am as eager as you to go there to see for myself," he told Ricardo Jalad, undersecretary at the disaster agency.

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Jalad said the death toll was preliminary and he was awaiting information from provincial units before a complete damage assessment could be made. Most of the reported deaths were due to fallen trees and drowning.

Odette, which saw winds of up to 195 kph before making landfall on Thursday, displaced more than 300,000 people, damaged homes and toppled power and communication lines, complicating the disaster response.

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At one point, Odette's winds intensified to Signal no. 5, the second highest PAGASA warning, but later weakened and was due to exit the Philippines by Saturday. The country sees on average 20 typhoons a year.

"It is not expected to cause massive damage compared to typhoons of the same strength previously," said Casiano Monilla, assistant secretary at the Office of the Civil Defense.

However, Bohol provincial governor Arthur Yap appealed for help as flooding hampered rescue efforts.

"Families are trapped on rooftops now," he told DZBB radio.

The typhoon, the 15th to strike the archipelago this year, saw dozens of flights cancelled and paralysed operations at several ports, leaving about 4,000 people stranded.

Authorities also postponed a mass vaccination drive in most regions.

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