Looting Possible By Hungry Survivors of Typhoon Rai, Philippine Gov Says, Pleading for Aid

Arthur Yap, governor of the central Bohol province in the Philippines, said on the radio Tuesday that if the government does not send food and other financial aid, some of the region's 1.2 million residents, many of whom were affected by last week's Typhoon Rai, could begin looting stores out of desperation.

While President Rodrigo Duterte visited the province over the weekend, Yap said on the DZBB radio network that the 35,000 food packs the government promised have not arrived, and even when they do, it wouldn't be enough for the people affected in the region.

Rai was the most powerful typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, with sustained winds over 120 miles per hour, leaving an estimated 375 dead, over 500 injured and at least 50 others still missing, according to officials.

Five days after the typhoon hit, millions are still without power and cell service in Bohol, Yap said.

Yap said some sporadic looting at smaller stores has already taken place, but as the province's contingency fund has already run dry, he can no longer provide food and aid to his residents, and he fears the situation could worsen.

The government needs to send more food and resources, or they need to be prepared to send police and military to the area to stop a desperate populace from looting.

Phiippines, Typhoon Rai, Bohol Province
The governor of a central Philippine province devastated by Typhoon Rai last week pleaded on radio on December 21, 2021, for the government to quickly send food and other aid, warning that without outside help, troops and police forces would have to be deployed to prevent looting amid growing hunger. Above, damaged homes due to the typhoon along a coastal village in Surigao City, southern Philippines, on Monday. Erwin Mascarinas/Greenpeace via AP

In an interview on DZBB radio network, Yap thanked Duterte for visiting his province but said, "If you would not send money for food, you should send soldiers and police, because if not, lootings will break out here."

Some looting mostly of small merchandise stores have occurred, Yap said, adding that the situation remained under control. But he warned that the looting could worsen if people, especially in hard-hit island municipalities, grow more desperate.

People cannot withdraw money from banks without cell phone connections and power, and fuel and water shortages have also sparked long queues, he said.

The national police said widespread looting was not a problem in typhoon-ravaged regions and added that they were ready to deal with any lawlessness.

Typhoon Rai packed sustained winds of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour with gusts of up to 270 kph (168 mph) at its most lethal point before blowing out into the South China Sea on Friday.

Nearly a million people were lashed by the typhoon, including more than 400,000 who had to be moved to emergency shelters as the typhoon approached. Some have begun to return home but others either lost their houses entirely or need to do major repairs.

Emergency crews were working to restore electricity in 227 cities and towns, officials said Monday, adding that power had been restored in only 21 areas so far.

Cellphone connections have been restored in at least 106 of more than 130 cities and towns. Two local airports remained closed Monday except for emergency flights, but most others have reopened, the civil aviation agency said.

Duterte said government emergency funds have been mostly used for the coronavirus pandemic but promised to raise 2 billion pesos ($40 million) from government agency savings to provide additional funds to typhoon-hit provinces.

The Philippines has not appealed for international help but Japan said it was sending power generators, camping tents, sleeping pads, water containers and tarpaulin roofing sheets to hard-hit regions, while China announced it was providing 20,000 food packs and rice.

About 20 tropical storms and typhoons annually batter the Philippines, which also lies along the seismically active Pacific "Ring of Fire" region, where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions frequently occur, making the Southeast Asian nation of more than 100 million people one of the world's most disaster-prone countries.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Philippines, Typhoon Rai, Bohol Province
The governor of Bohol, a central province in the Philippines, said on December 21, 2021, that the government needed to send more food and other aid to the region where over 100 died in Typhoon Rai, or be prepared to send police and military to stop looting as residents get increasingly desperate. Above, an aerial shot showing destroyed houses and fallen coconut trees in Cebu province on Monday, days after the typhoon blew through. Stringer/AFP via Getty Images