Typhoon Phanfone that barreled through the central Philippines left at least 28 dead and 12 missing. The typhoon forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations.
The Typhoon stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel. It set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles. Knocking out power in entire provinces.
One disaster response officer described the 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,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense said by phone.
The storm weakened as it blew into the South China Sea with sustained winds of 120 kilometers (74 miles) per hour.
Gusts of 150 kph (93 mph), hit the island with fierce winds and pounding rain on Christmas Day.
Most of the deaths reported were due to drowning, falling trees and accidental electrocution, police said.
A father, his three children and another relative were among those missing.
The typhoon slammed into Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve and then plowed across the archipelago’s central region. On Christmas, it slammed into seven coastal towns and island provinces.
Gymnasiums and schools turned into emergency shelters
Provincial officials, army troops, police and volunteers spent Christmas away from home. Tending to thousands of displaced residents in town gymnasiums and schools turned into emergency shelters. Many more people spent Christmas Eve, traditionally a time for family reunions, in bus terminals.
More than 25,000 people were stranded in sea ports across the central region and outlying provinces. The coast guard prohibited ferries and cargo ships from venturing into dangerously choppy waters. Dozens of international and domestic flights were canceled. Including to popular beach and surfing resorts.
About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year. The Southeast Asian nation is also located in the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” Consequently where earthquakes and volcanic eruptions often occur. Making the country of more than 100 million people one of the world’s most disaster prone.
Phanfone, a Laotian word for animal, traveled along a path similar to that of Typhoon Haiyan, one of the most ferocious storms on record, which left more than 7,300 people dead and missing, flattened entire villages, swept ships inland and displaced more than 5 million people in the central Philippines in 2013.