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21 killed as typhoon phanfone hits the Philippines on Christmas Day (Photos)



A typhoon in the central Philippines on Christmas Day has killed at least 21 people and caused damage to homes and tourist areas.

Typhoon Phanfone, known locally as Typhoon Ursula, first made landfall on Eastern Samar province on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and storm surges. It hit as the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane, packing sustained wind speeds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, with gusts of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour.

Phanfone continued to sweep West across the islands of the Eastern Visayas region, southern Luzon and Western Visayas on Wednesday, toppling electricity pylons and trees, tearing off roofs, damaging homes and causing widespread travel disruption over the busy Christmas period.

The region is majority Catholic and many people were preparing for family celebrations when the typhoon hit.

Images from the area showed debris blocking roads, downed lamp posts, crumpled houses and people huddling in evacuation centers.

On Thursday, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported that 13 people had died in the Western Visayas region, while the Office of Civil Defense said eight had died in Eastern Visayas.

Two of the victims were electrocuted and one was hit by a falling mango tree, officials said.

Five fishermen from Samar Island are also missing.

The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined as power and communications in several areas remain cut off.

Some tourist areas, including the popular resort island of Boracay, were also damaged on Wednesday. The nearby Kalibo International Airport was temporarily closed and flights canceled after the typhoon damaged the roof of the terminal building, according to an advisory from Philippine Airlines.

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