Speed Reads

"leveled to the ground"

At least 31 dead after typhoon strikes Philippines

A typhoon ravaged the central Philippines Thursday and Friday, killing at least 31 people and causing immense damage to property, The Associated Press reports.

Winds gusted as high as 168 mph, making Typhoon Rai — also known as Typhoon Odette — one of the most powerful typhoons to hit the Philippines in recent years. The New York Post reports that over 300,000 people were pre-emptively evacuated.

Arlene Bag-ao, governor of the hard-hit Dinagat Islands, said her province's main island had been "leveled to the ground," leaving its 180,000 inhabitants desperate for shelter, clean water, and other necessities. She also said she expects the death toll to increase as emergency responders reach more of the island's isolated towns and villages. Many areas of the island are cut off from the mainland as a result of damage to ships and downed power and communication lines.

Vice Gov. Nilo Demerey, who managed to escape to a nearby province, told a local radio station he estimates 95 percent of the island's houses have lost their roofs.

Manny Pacquiao, a Philippine senator and presidential candidate as well as a retired professional boxer, posted on Facebook Thursday night calling on other politicians and leaders to "band together and help our countrymen who are affected by the typhoon."