Philippine governor warns of unaided typhoon looting


MANILA, Philippines (AP) – The governor of a central Philippine province devastated by Typhoon Rai last week pleaded on radio on Tuesday for the government to send food and other aid quickly, warning that without outside help , Army troops and police forces should be deployed to prevent looting amid growing hunger.

Governor Arthur Yap of Bohol Province said he could no longer get rice and other food aid after his contingency fund was exhausted and added that many of the 1.2 million people in his island provinces, which remained without electricity or mobile phone service five days after the typhoon hit, have grown increasingly desperate.

The strongest typhoon to hit the Philippine archipelago this year has left at least 375 dead and 50 more missing, mostly in its central region, including nearly 100 dead in Bohol, officials say.

President Rodrigo Duterte visited Bohol over the weekend and witnessed the vast devastation. Yap said the government’s welfare department had promised to send 35,000 food packages, not enough for the province’s 375,000 families, but even these have yet to arrive.

In an interview with the DZBB radio network, Yap thanked Duterte for visiting his province but said: “If you don’t send money for food, you should send soldiers and police, otherwise looting. will erupt here.

Some looting, mainly in small merchandise stores, took place, Yap said, adding that the situation remained under control. But he warned that the looting could get worse if people, especially in hard-hit island municipalities, became more desperate. People cannot withdraw money from banks without a phone connection or electricity, and fuel and water shortages have also triggered long queues, he said.

National police said widespread looting was not a problem in typhoon-ravaged areas and added they were ready to face any lawlessness.

Typhoon Rai blew sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 270 km / h (168 mph) at its maximum before blowing into the South China Sea on Friday. At least 375 people were killed, most of them in falling trees and flash floods, with 56 others missing and 500 injured, according to national police. But the toll could rise further as emergency teams restore communications and power to more towns and villages.

Almost a million people were whipped by the typhoon, including more than 400,000 who had to be moved to emergency shelters as the typhoon approached. Some have started to return home, but others have lost their homes completely or are in need of major repairs.

Emergency crews were working to restore power to 227 towns and villages, officials said on Monday, adding that power had only been restored in 21 areas so far. Telephone connections have been reestablished in at least 106 of the more than 130 towns and villages. Two local airports remained closed on Monday except for emergency flights, but most of the others reopened, the civil aviation agency said.

Duterte said government emergency funds were primarily used for the coronavirus pandemic, but pledged to raise 2 billion pesos ($ 40 million) through savings from government agencies to provide additional funds to affected provinces. by the typhoon.

The Philippines did not appeal for international aid, but Japan said it was sending generators, camping tents, mattresses, water cans and roofing tarps to the hard-hit areas. while China announced it was providing 20,000 food and rice packages.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons hit the Philippines each year, which also lies along the seismically active Pacific “Ring of Fire” region, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur frequently, causing the Southeast Asian nation of over 100 million people, one of the most disaster-prone countries.

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