Monday 27 January 2020

20 dead after Typhoon Phanfone hits central Philippines

Fallen power lines dangle over buildings after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Fallen power lines dangle over buildings after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Fallen trees are seen after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Fallen trees and buildings are seen after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Destroyed Christmas decorations are seen after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
Fallen tree branches litter a basketball court after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES.
A man walks past damaged homes after Typhoon Phanfone swept through Tanauan, Leyte, in the Philippines December 25, 2019, in this photo obtained from social media. Paul Cinco/via REUTERS
Workers remove a fallen tree and electric pylon (L) destroyed at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Salcedo town, Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. - (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Workers pull a fallen electric pylon damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Salcedo town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
A house destroyed at the height of Typhoon Phanfone is seen in Balasan town in Iloilo province on December 26, 2019 (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A family eat a meal inside their house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Motorists speed past a fallen electric pylon damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Balasan town in Iloilo province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents construct a makeshift shelter after their house was destroyed at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Lamp posts damaged due to typhoon Phanfone lie on a road in Ormoc City, Leyte province in central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by RONALD FRANK DEJON/AFP via Getty Images)
This undated handout image received courtesy of Jung Byung-joon on December 26, 2019 shows damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone outside Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province. (Photo by Handout / Courtesy of Jung Byung-joon / AFP)
This undated handout image received courtesy of Jung Byung-joon on December 26, 2019 shows damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone outside Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province.(Photo by Handout / Courtesy of Jung Byung-joon / AFP)
A resident looks at a house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Fishermen carry a boat to higher ground in Baybay, eastern Samar on December 24, 2019, after typhoon Phanfone hit the central Philippines. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A strong typhoon that barrelled through the central Philippines left at least 20 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Catholic country.

Typhoon Phanfone stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, set off landslides, engulfed low-lying villages with floods, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical posts and knocked out power in entire provinces.

One disaster response officer described the battered coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province as a "ghost town" on Christmas Day.

"You can't see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can't hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town," said Cindy Ferrer, of the regional Office of the Civil Defence.

Residents walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)

The storm weakened slightly on Thursday as it blew into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 74mph (120kph) and gusts of 93mph (150kph) after lashing island after island with fierce winds and pounding rain on Christmas Day, the weather agency said.

Most of the 20 deaths reported by officials were due to drowning, falling trees and accidental electrocution.

A resident looks at a house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)
A resident looks at a house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by BOBBIE ALOTA/AFP via Getty Images)

A father, his three children and another relative were among those missing in hard-hit Iloilo province after a swollen river inundated their shanty, officials said.

The typhoon hit Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve and then barrelled across the archipelago's central region on Christmas, slamming into seven coastal towns and island provinces without losing power, government forecasters said.

This undated handout image received courtesy of Jung Byung-joon on December 26, 2019 shows damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone outside Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province. (Photo by Handout / Courtesy of Jung Byung-joon / AFP)
This undated handout image received courtesy of Jung Byung-joon on December 26, 2019 shows damage caused by Typhoon Phanfone outside Kalibo International Airport in Kalibo, the capital of Aklan province. (Photo by Handout / Courtesy of Jung Byung-joon / AFP)

Provincial officials, army troops, police and volunteers spent Christmas away from home to tend to thousands of displaced residents in town gymnasiums and schools turned into emergency shelters.

More than 25,000 people were stranded in sea ports across the central region and outlying provinces after the coast guard prohibited ferries and cargo ships from venturing into dangerously choppy waters. Dozens of domestic flights to and from the region were cancelled.

Lamp posts damaged due to typhoon Phanfone lie on a road in Ormoc City, Leyte province in central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by RONALD FRANK DEJON/AFP via Getty Images)
Lamp posts damaged due to typhoon Phanfone lie on a road in Ormoc City, Leyte province in central Philippines on December 25, 2019. (Photo by RONALD FRANK DEJON/AFP via Getty Images)

About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year.

The South East Asian nation is also located in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur, making the country of more than 100 million people one of the world's most disaster-prone.

Residents construct a makeshift shelter after their house was destroyed at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents construct a makeshift shelter after their house was destroyed at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
Motorists speed past a fallen electric pylon damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Balasan town in Iloilo province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Motorists speed past a fallen electric pylon damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Balasan town in Iloilo province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
A family eat a meal inside their house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)
A family eat a meal inside their house damaged at the height of Typhoon Phanfone in Guiuan town in Eastern Samar province on December 26, 2019. (Photo by ALREN BERONIO/AFP via Getty Images)

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