Typhoon Rai (Odette) Damages South China Sea Outposts of Philippines, Vietnam

Special to BenarNews
2021.12.22
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Typhoon Rai (Odette) Damages South China Sea Outposts of Philippines, Vietnam This undated handout photo released from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Dec. 22, 2021 shows an aerial view of damaged buildings on Thitu (Pag-asa) Island in the disputed Spratly Islands, days after Super Typhoon Rai (Odette) struck the southern and central regions of the archipelago.
AFP Photo/Philippine Coast Guard

Typhoon Rai (Odette), the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines and Vietnam this year, caused severe damage to some of their major outposts in the South China Sea, according to the Philippine Coast Guard and Vietnamese media.

The hardest hit were Thitu, an island under the Philippines’ control and known to Filipinos as Pag-asa, and Southwest Cay, a maritime territory held by Vietnam.

Satellite images taken before and after the category-5 super typhoon struck show that the islands changed in color from green to brown, as winds and rains knocked down trees and destroyed plants.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) posted several photos of Pag-asa on social media after the typhoon, known as Odette in the Philippines, slammed the island last week.

The island is the only Philippine-controlled outpost in the South China Sea with a civilian population of around 200. It’s also the largest and most important feature in the Kalayaan Island Group, hosting a naval port and an air strip.

The island is also claimed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam.

Aerial photos show “almost all the buildings and structures on the island were destroyed by the typhoon,” said the coast guard, adding that “no fishing boats were found to have survived” either.

The ABS-CBN news channel quoted a PCG spokesman, Commodore Armand Balilo, as saying that the newly-built coast-guard station on Pag-asa was “totally washed out.”

Residents on Pag-asa were evacuated before the typhoon and there have been no reporst of fatalities. However, the coast guard is calling for relief supplies to be delivered and damaged structures to be reconstructed or repaired.

The typhoon made landfall in the southern Philippines on Dec. 16. At least 375 people were reported killed and 56 are still missing. Officials are still assessing the scale of the economic impact.

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Philippine Coast Guard personnel walk toward a building damaged by Typhoon Rai on Philippine-claimed Thitu (Pag-asa) Island in the South China Sea, Dec. 21, 2021. [Philippine Coast Guard via Reuters]

Vietnamese outposts affected

Meanwhile Vietnam, while being spared the brunt of the typhoon, which didn’t strike the mainland directly, had to evacuate thousands of people from central coastal areas.

Local media said some of the outposts in the Spratly Islands, including Southwest Cay and Sin Cowe Island, were badly affected.

On Southwest Cay, the typhoon known in Vietnam as Typhoon Number 9 destroyed 90 percent of the trees and many houses as well as solar panels. The cay and Sin Cowe Island had sheltered hundreds of Vietnamese fishing boats operating nearby, the Voice of Vietnam said.

Southwest Cay is the second largest of the Vietnamese-occupied features after Spratly Island. It’s also claimed by China, the Philippines and Taiwan.

North Vietnamese forces took the island from the Saigon regime’s troops in 1975.

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COMMENTS

Anonymous
Dec 23, 2021 09:33 PM

Rebuild the structures right away with no delay due to its strategic national security importance. " PRIORITY # 1 "

Jose Garcia
Dec 27, 2021 05:38 PM

Hows about the BRP Siera Madre?

Larry Cofreros
Jan 18, 2022 09:14 PM

I’d like also to know what happened to the illegal structures constructed by the Chinese and its Maritime Militia fleet.

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