The number of deaths from a powerful typhoon that hit the Philippines on Christmas has climbed to 41, authorities said Sunday (Dec 29), with tens of thousands still in evacuation centres. The death toll of 41 – up from 28 on Friday – included three boat crew who died after their vessel capsized due to strong winds, a policeman electrocuted by a toppled post, and a man struck by a felled tree.
The latest agency report showed over 1.6 million people were affected by the typhoon, which damaged over 260,000 houses and forced almost a hundred thousand people to flee to emergency shelters. Though less powerful than other typhoons this year, Phanphone made landfall in some of the country’s poorest and least-developed islands. Among them was the island of Samar, which bore the brunt of Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, the Philippines’ most powerful and deadliest storm on record. It killed more than 6,300 people.
Many of the affected residents in the predominantly Catholic nation celebrated Christmas in evacuation centres, where they may have to stay until the New Year given the scale of destruction.
Power lines and internet connections remain down in some areas after Phanfone’s powerful wind gusts of up to 200 kmh toppled electric posts and trees.
Typhoon Phanfone, is the 21st cyclone to hit the storm-prone Philippines, which is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt.