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Monster Typhoon Rai ‘Hits Like a Freight Train’, Forces Mass Evacuations in Philippines

Almost 100,000 residents were forced to leave their homes as Typhoon Rai landed in the Philippines Thursday, posing significant danger to coastal communities as it battered the shore as a Category 5 cyclone with winds up to 195 kilometres per hour.

“This monster storm is frightening and threatens to hit coastal communities like a freight train,” said Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines. “We are very concerned that climate change is making typhoons more ferocious and unpredictable.”

Typhoon Rai is referred to locally as Odette. It is the second super typhoon to threaten the country since September, and the strongest storm to hit the Philippines this year. The weather bureau warned that “‘very destructive’ winds could cause ‘heavy to very heavy damage to structures and vegetation,’ along with widespread flooding and rain-induced landslides,” says Agence France-Presse.

Airlines are cancelling flights, and the storm has pushed more than 98,000 people to seek emergency shelter, including domestic tourists visiting the country’s coastal areas. Weather forecasters warn that the winds could damage houses and topple electric posts and trees.

Disaster response officials say 10,000 villages are in the typhoon’s projected path, which has a 248 mile-wide “rain band,” says NBC News.

The Philippines is one of the most typhoon-prone countries in the world, experiencing an average of 20 each year. The continuing impact has produced US$10 billion in losses over the past decade, reports Bloomberg News.

“Scientists have long warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful, and strengthening more rapidly, as the world becomes warmer because of human-driven climate change,” AFP adds.