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

Typhoon Rai (Odette) Damages South China Sea Outposts of Philippines, Vietnam.lelemuku.com.jpg

MANILA, LELEMUKU.COM - 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.

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 Spratlys 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.(benarnews)

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