President sends message of sympathy for losses to Philippine counterpart
President Xi Jinping on Tuesday sent a message of condolence to his Philippine counterpart Rodrigo Duterte in response to the typhoon that pummeled the southern and central regions of the archipelago and killed at least 375 people.
In his message, the Chinese leader said he was shocked to learn of the grave casualties and damage caused by Typhoon Rai.
On behalf of the Chinese government and people and in his own name, Xi expressed deep condolences over the deaths and extended sincere sympathies to the injured and the bereaved families in his message.
China stands ready to provide assistance to the best of its ability to the Philippines, he said, adding that he believes that people affected by the disaster can overcome the difficulties and rebuild their homes.
Meanwhile, Philippine troops raced on Tuesday to deliver food and water to typhoon-ravaged islands as charities appealed for aid to help hundreds of thousands left homeless by the deadly storm.
The typhoon hit the archipelago last Thursday, wiping out wooden houses, uprooting trees and knocking out power across entire islands.
"Never in my entire life have I encountered such a typhoon," said Catholic Bishop Antonieto Cabajog in Surigao, on the northern tip of Mindanao Island.
"To say 'super' is an understatement," he said of the storm's strength.
More than 400,000 people were sheltering in evacuation centers or with relatives, the national disaster agency said, after their homes were damaged or destroyed by the strongest typhoon this year.
One of the hardest-hit islands was Bohol-known for its beaches and dive spots-where at least 96 people have died, provincial Governor Arthur Yap said on Facebook.
A state of calamity has been declared on the island where people sat under umbrellas next to their empty water drums.
Yap said the province had run out of money and pleaded for the central government to send funds to buy food and drinking water for desperate families.
While other parts of the Philippines celebrated Christmas, Bohol was "undergoing a Yolanda-like situation", he added, using the local name for Super Typhoon Haiyan in 2013.
On nearby Negros Island, Carl Arapoc, 23, told Agence France-Presse there was no electricity in his city and his family was using "driftwood" to cook.
There has also been widespread destruction on Siargao, Dinagat and Mindanao islands, which bore the brunt of the storm, packing winds of 195 kilometers per hour.