Philippines' Typhoon Rai death toll rises further as areas remain cut off from help

Super Typhoon Rai destroyed homes and uprooted  trees in Del Carmen town, Siargao Island, seen on December 20, 2021.

(CNN)The death toll from the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year surpassed 300 on Tuesday as humanitarian agencies warned the true scale of destruction remains unknown, partly because rescue workers are unable to access some disaster-hit areas.

Super Typhoon Rai -- known locally as Odette -- has now claimed at least 375 lives since it ripped through the archipelago late last week, CNN affiliate CNN Philippines reported, citing the Philippine National Police (PNP). At least 515 people are injured and 56 still missing, the PNP said.
More deaths are expected to be confirmed as rescue operations continue. But aid workers face the difficult task of reaching some regions that are cut off due to debris-filled and waterlogged roads, some with telephone and internet connections down.
    Items salvaged from a damaged structure due to Typhoon Rai in Cebu province, central Philippines on December 20, 2021.
    Philippine Red Cross chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said Tuesday that five bridges in Palawan have been destroyed by the storm. Nearly 1 million people live in the western province, according to 2020 official figures.
      "Homes are completely destroyed. We are trying to send urgent supplies including water, food and medicines," Gordon said. "Communities have been completely cut off."
      Appealing to the international community, Gordon said funds for emergency rescue efforts were urgently needed.
      "Millions are affected by this typhoon, and supplies are scarce," he added.
        Residents stand next to a destroyed market building in General Luna town, Siargao island, Surigao del Norte province, a day after Typhoon Rai devastated the island.
        Rai, the 15th typhoon to hit the Philippines this year, made landfall on Siargao Island on Thursday, a popular tourist and surfing destination in the Caraga region of northeast Mindanao. It had initially packed winds of up to 260 kilometers (160 miles) per hour -- equivalent to a Category 5 storm.
        Many preemptive evacuations and storm preparations began earlier in the week as the country began seeing heavy rain, but millions were still left vulnerable.
        As Rai traveled west, it ripped down homes, trees and power cables in its path, bringing with it heavy rain, widespread flooding and landslides. Communities were destroyed and hundreds of thousands left homeless by the storm.
        In nearby Surigao City, one of the worst-hit areas, survivors were seen pleading on the roads for food and water, surrounded by uprooted trees and electricity poles. Police were seen removing broken branches from the roads.
        Residents stand in front of damaged homes following Typhoon Rai in Talisay, Cebu province, central Philippines on December 18, 2021.