A typhoon that swept across remote villages and popular tourist areas of the central Philippines on Christmas Day claimed at least 16 lives, authorities said Thursday.
Typhoon Phanfone, with winds of 195 kilometres (120 miles) an hour, tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts as it cut across the Philippines on Wednesday.
Typhoon Phanfone continues to bring destructive winds and intense rainfall over parts of central Philippines on Wednesday https://t.co/ToyVweW6MV
— Bloomberg Asia (@BloombergAsia) December 25, 2019
With the internet and mobile phone networks still cut off in some badly damaged areas, a full assessment of Phanfone’s damage was not immediately possible on Thursday morning.
The airport at Kalibo, which services Boracay, was badly damaged, according to a Korean tourist who was stranded there and provided images to AFP
But at least 16 people had been confirmed killed in villages and towns in the Visayas, the central third of the Philippines, according to disaster agency officials.
Phanfone also hit Boracay, Coron and other holiday destinations that are famed for their white-sand beaches and popular with foreign tourists.
So unfortunate! A Christmas Typhoon for the #Philippines. Tropical storm #Phanfone (#UrsulaPH ) should make landfall as a #Typhoon 7-9pm Christmas Eve and move across the country on Christmas Day. 2nd typhoon this month. Christmas is a big deal here. Keep them in your thoughts! pic.twitter.com/DNmdqFyWyp
— Tom Sater (@TomSaterCNN) December 23, 2019
The airport at Kalibo, which services Boracay, was badly damaged, according to a Korean tourist who was stranded there and provided images to AFP.
“Roads remain blocked, but some efforts have been made to clear away the damage. It’s pretty bad,” Jung Byung Joon said via Instagram messenger.
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“Everything within 100 meters of the airport looks broken. There are a lot of frustrated people at the airport as flights have been cancelled.
“Taxis are still running but it’s windy and still raining so no one wants to leave the airport, including me. ”
Typhoon Phanfone, with winds of 195 kilometres (120 miles) an hour, tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts as it cut across the Philippines on Wednesday
Though much weaker, Phanfone tracked a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan — the country’s deadliest storm on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.
“It’s like the younger sibling of Haiyan. It’s less destructive, but it followed a similar path,” Cindy Ferrer, an information officer at the Western Visayas region’s disaster officer, told AFP.
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Tens of thousands of people in the mostly Catholic nation had been forced to evacuate their homes on Wednesday, ruining Christmas celebrations.
Many others were not able to return to their families, with ferries and plane services suspended.
#Typhoon Phanfone barreled into the central #Philippines on Tuesday, bringing "violent winds" over Eastern Samar and Leyte provinces, the Philippine state weather bureau said. https://t.co/u5fPisHeL7 pic.twitter.com/vrpmVyF9TK
— China Daily (@ChinaDaily) December 26, 2019
Among those killed Phanfone was a police officer who was electrocuted by a toppled electric post while patrolling.
The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt, and is hit by an average of about 20 major storms a year.
Many of the storms are deadly, and they typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.
AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk.