Residents stand amid damaged homes following Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. The strong typhoon engulfed villages in floods that trapped residents on roofs, toppled trees and knocked out power in southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 villagers had fled to safety before the onslaught, officials said.

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Residents stand amid damaged homes following Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021. The strong typhoon engulfed villages in floods that trapped residents on roofs, toppled trees and knocked out power in southern and central island provinces, where more than 300,000 villagers had fled to safety before the onslaught, officials said.

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The death toll from Super Typhoon Rai that raked southern and central Philippines late last week has risen to 375 with 500 people missing, according to data compiled by the National Police.

The count, subject to verification, far outstrips the 156 deaths recorded by the national disaster agency from the storm known locally as Odette.

A man carries pails beside damaged homes due to Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

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Rai is one of the most powerful storms to hit the southern Philippines on record. Within 24 hours the typhoon intensified into the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, with sustained winds of some 100 miles per hour in a band 600 miles across. By the time it exited the Philippines Saturday, the storm had displaced more than 481,000 people, according to the Philippines Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.

Among is Niel Jon Salcedo, a young dentist in Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao. He took a moment to savor a family treasure as flood waters lapped in his home.

A man stands beside damaged homes along a swollen river due to Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

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In a video on Facebook, he stood in knee-high water as he began to play the piano that his parents had given him when he was five.

In a Facebook message, Salcedo told NPR that he had transferred his personal effects to the second floor, but could not salvage the heavy piano. So Salcedo said, “I decided to play … this might be the last time I can.”

Residents inspect their destroyed house in Surigao City, Surigao del norte province, on December 19, 2021, days after super Typhoon Rai devastated the city.

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Widespread flooding and gale-force winds affected hundreds of thousands of people already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Gov. Bingo Matugas of Siargao, where Rai first made landfall, told CNN Philippines that the island is “totally devastated.”

A video circulating on social media showed the storm’s ferocious winds peeling the roof off of the newly inaugurated Siargao Sports Complex, while a crowd of evacuees screamed in panic.

A man sits beside remnants of damaged homes in Talisay city, Cebu province, central Philippines on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

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Local media report that residents have painted “SOS” on a road in the island’s tourist town of General Luna, as people struggled to find water and food. Before Rai struck, Siargao was fast becoming a go-to tourist destination in the Philippines and surfers and holidaymakers had flocked to the island ahead of Christmas.

The diving Mecca of Bohol is one of the hardest-hit islands. Gov. Arthur Yap said on Facebook that at least 94 people have died.

In the Bohol coastal town of Ubay, houses have been flattened, fishing boats destroyed, and a state of calamity declared.

Seventy-two hours after the storm, the full effects are just now becoming clear. “Red Cross emergency teams are reporting complete carnage in the coastal areas. Homes, hospitals, school and community buildings have been ripped to shreds,” said Philippine Red Cross Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon. He said Red Cross volunteers are providing “urgent relief for people who have lost everything, including … somewhere safe to shelter.”

In this photo provided by Greenpeace, cars pass by a toppled electrical post due to Typhoon Rai in Surigao city, Surigao del Norte, southern Philippines as power supply remains down on Sunday Dec. 19, 2021.

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The recovery effort has been slow. Over 200 municipalities remain without power, and many Filipinos are homeless. The Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development reported over 53,00 houses have been destroyed and another 83,000 partially damaged.

The country’s disaster agency said $3.2 million USD in crops, livestock, and machinery have been lost.

Touring the devastation this weekend, President Rodrigo Duterte acknowledged that the storm’s intensity had caught government agencies off guard. “No one expected it to be this strong,” he said, and asked for the public’s patience. The pandemic, he said, had depleted the budget, but that new funds will be available at the start of the year. Duterte pledged immediate aid of 2 billion pesos, about $40 million, to hard-hit areas, but conceded it would not cover the total cost of havoc the storm has wreaked on people’s lives and livelihoods.

Scientists have warned that typhoons are becoming more powerful and strengthening more rapidly as the world’s climate warms. The Philippines ranks among the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change and is hit by an average of 20 storms, some ruinous, every year.

In this photo provided by Greenpeace, residents buy at a damaged public market due to Typhoon Rai in Surigao city, Surigao del Norte, southern Philippines on Sunday Dec. 19, 2021.

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Residents line up for gasoline after Typhoon Rai damaged parts of Cebu city, central Philippines on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

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A boy sits beside water containers as residents line up for water as pipelines and electricity were damaged due to Typhoon Rai in Cebu province, central Philippines on Monday Dec. 20, 2021.

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Residents line up to charge their phones for free at a mall after Typhoon Rai damaged power lines and other parts of Cebu city, central Philippines on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

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In this photo taken early December 16, 2021, residents sleep inside a sports complex turned into an evacuation center in Dapa town, Siargao island, Surigao del Norte province in southern island of Mindanao, ahead of Typhoon Rai’s landfall in the province.

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Residents take shelter in a cultural center turned into an evacuation center after Super Typhoon Rai passed in Isabela town of Negros Occidental province on December 17, 2021.

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A child plays next to uprooted coconut and banana trees in the coastal town of Dulag in Leyte province on December 17, 2021, a day after Super Typhoon Rai hit.

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Ships run aground due to Typhoon Rai in Cebu city, central Philippines on Friday, Dec. 17, 2021.

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Residents of Pagnamitan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, eastern Philippines wade through a flooded road caused by Typhoon Rai on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021.

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A resident bathes her child next to their destroyed house in Carcar, Philippines’ Cebu province on December 18, 2021, days after Super Typhoon Rai hit the city.

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Residents repair the roof of their collapsed house in Iloilo city on December 17, 2021, a day after Super Typhoon Rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the Philippines.

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A woman walks past clothes that are left to dry on toppled trees due to Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on Saturday Dec. 18, 2021.

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Romel Lo-ang recovers personal belongings from their damaged home due to Typhoon Rai in Cebu province, central Philippines on Sunday Dec. 19, 2021.

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