Typhoon Phanfone hits the Philippines

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The Philippines

A typhoon that ripped across central Philippines on Christmas Day, uprooting houses, wreaking havoc in popular tourist areas and devastating festive celebrations, has killed 28 people and left at least another 12 missing.

Typhoon Phanfone, known locally as Typhoon Ursula, slammed into Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve.

The storm tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts with winds of 195km (120 miles) per hour as it cut across the cluster of islands of the Eastern Visayas region, southern Luzon and Western Visayas on Christmas Day.

Several islands were severely flooded, houses were torn apart and washed away and trees were blown down, while disaster agencies reported that many major roads had become impassable.

Areas across the archipelago battered by the storm, which made seven landfalls, included Boracay, Coron and other islands popular with tourists because of their paradise beaches. The airport at Kalibo, which services Boracay island, was badly damaged in the storm and temporarily closed.

On Thursday afternoon the province of Leyte was placed under a state of calamity due to the trail of destruction left by the typhoon.

“We are a mixture of feelings right now,” said Carlo Petilla Loreto, vice-governor of Leyte. “We’re supposed to be festive because it’s Christmas but at the same time we feel for those affected by Typhoon Ursula.”

Cindy Ferrer, head of the regional office of civil defence, described the battered coastal area of Batad in Iloilo province as looking like a “ghost town” on Christmas Day.

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.

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.

Source: Aljazeera. 27 Dec 2019. Typhoon Phanfone kills dozens in the Philippines https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/12/typhoon-phanfone-kills-21-philippines-191227000933294.html