Typhoon Phanfone has killed at least 28 people in central Philippines on Christmas Day and left 12 missing, while thousands have been forced to flee their homes.
The locally known as Typhoon Ursula ravaged three provinces, as it fist made landfall on Eastern Samar province on Tuesday and continued to sweep west across the Eastern Visayas region, southern Luzon and Western Visayas the next day.
The typhoon tore roofs off houses and destroyed water and power lines, and led to severe floodings and landslides in many cities, according to the government’s office of civil defence.
Flights and ferries were canceled, leaving behind thousands travelling on their way home, while many major roads remain impassable and internet and mobile networks are cut in badly damaged areas.
According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a total of 58,400 people were pre-emptively evacuated ahead of the typhoon, forced to spend Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in temporary evacuation shelters at school gymnasiums and bus terminals.
“Ursula”, that touched gusts of 95 kilometres per hour, was reported to be easing in strength on Thursday, as it moved over the western Philippines toward the South China Sea .
“I join in the pain that affected the dear people of the Philippines because of the Typhoon Phanfone. I pray for the numerous victims, for the injured and for their families,” said Pope Francis.
Rescue operations in flooded communities are still taking place, while the death toll is constantly rising.
Philippines are struck by more than 20 typhoons annually with Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 being the deadliest, leaving more than 6,000 victims behind. Typhoon Kammuri hit Philippines just three weeks ago, killing at least 17 people, as it ripped the capital Manila and neighbour areas.