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Typhoon Rai: Thousands flee as super typhoon hits the Philippines

Heavy rains brought by Super Typhoon Rai caused a creek to swell and flooded some areas, triggering rescue operations to evacuate remaining residents trapped in their flooded homes.

Thousands of people in the Philippines have fled their homes and coastal resorts as Super Typhoon Rai strikes the country on Thursday, with a charity warning that the storm could strike coastal communities like a “freight train”.

Rai is the strongest hurricane ever to hit a group of disaster-prone islands this year.

“This massive storm is terrifying and threatening to attack coastal communities like a freight train,” said Alberto Bocanegra, head of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in the Philippines.

The weather office has warned “strong winds” could cause “severe or severe damage to buildings and plants”, as well as widespread flooding and landslides caused by rain.

“A lot of storms have passed here before and it was going well – this is different,” he told AFP.

The typhoon weakened slightly as it flooded the southern and central regions, cut off electricity and communications, and dumped heavy rainfall over the valleys.

Among those evacuated were local tourists who visited the country’s most famous beaches and sank in the pre-Christmas swimming pools.

A confirmed video captured by tourists in Siargao showed the trees moving violently as people waited for the full impact of the hurricane.

In the town of Cagayan de Oro on the southern island of Mindanao, coastal officials used a life-giving boat, life ring, and frame to rescue residents trapped in their flooded houses near a swampy stream.

Many flights were canceled and dozens of ports closed temporarily as the weather office warned that high-altitude storms could cause “life-threatening floods” in low-lying coastal areas.

Meteorologist Christopher Perez said the wind could “knock down electric poles and trees” and damage houses built with simple materials.

This is the second major hurricane to threaten the country since September when Chanthu grazed on the northeast of the main island of Luzon.

The super typhoon is also known as the fifth hurricane season in the United States.

Rai is expected to cross the Visayas region, as well as the islands of Mindanao and Palawan, before setting off on Saturday along the South China Sea towards Vietnam.

The deadliest hurricane in the Philippines was Super Typhoon Haiyan, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

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