Typhoon Phanfone ruins Christmas for thousands of Filipinos

Typhoon Phanfone ruins Christmas for thousands of Filipinos
Typhoon Phanfone ruins Christmas for thousands of Filipinos

We show you our most important and recent visitors news details Typhoon Phanfone ruins Christmas for thousands of Filipinos in the following article

Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MANILA — Typhoon Phanfone smashed into the central Philippines on Tuesday, ruining Christmas plans as thousands were left stranded at ports or told to leave their homes.

The tropical storm was upgraded to a typhoon shortly before it made landfall on Christmas Eve in the mainly Catholic nation, with no immediate reports of casualties.

It struck the southern tip of the impoverished island of Samar in the afternoon, packing gusts of up to 150 km (90 miles) an hour.

Officials said the region's coastal areas as well as those prone to flooding and landslides were evacuated on Tuesday, but could not give the exact number of people affected.

"Some families are reluctant to evacuate because they want to celebrate Christmas at home, but local officials will force them out if they refuse to heed our warnings," regional civil defense official Reyden Cabrigas earlier said.

The state weather service said homes made of wood, straw or bamboo risked "heavy damage".

Coastal areas of Samar and nearby Leyte island were at risk from giant two-meter (6.6-foot) waves crashing onto shorelines and should be evacuated, it added.

All boats on the storm's projected path through the central islands were ordered to stay in port and many commercial flights were cancelled, stranding thousands of people who were trooping to their hometowns.

Though much weaker, Phanfone was tracking a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan — the country's deadliest cyclone on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

"We are aiming for zero casualties," said Cabrigas, speaking by phone from the central city of Tacloban, the center of Haiyan's devastation.

More than 23,000 ferry passengers trying to get home for the Christmas holidays have been stranded at ports as shipping shut down, the coast guard said on Tuesday.

The state weather service said Phanfone — Laotian for "animal" — would bring moderate to strong winds over the capital Manila on Christmas Day on Wednesday before blowing out into the South China Sea.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific cyclone belt.

As such, the archipelago gets hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year, keeping millions of people in disaster-prone areas in a state of constant poverty.

Strong winds and associated dangers like floods, landslides, and, more rarely, giant walls of seawater pounding the coasts kill scores of people each year, wipe out farmers' harvests and destroy roads, bridges, power lines and other infrastructure. — AFP

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