Typhoon misery for Philippines on Christmas Day

25 Décembre, 2019, 20:09 | Auteur: Anatole Charbonneau
  • Typhoon misery for Philippines on Christmas Day

Typhoon Phanfone pummelled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet and miserable holiday season to millions in the mainly Catholic nation.

Thousands were stranded at shuttered ports or evacuation centres at the height of the festive season on Wednesday, and residents cowered in rain-soaked homes as Phanfone leapt from one small island to another for the second day.

More than 16,000 people spent the night in improvised shelters in schools, gyms and government buildings as the typhoon first made landfall Tuesday, civil defence officials said.

The typhoon ripped a metal window frame off the building and dropped it onto a vehicle parked outside, she said.

More islands are along its projected path are expected to be hit with destructive winds and intense rainfall before blowing out into the South China Sea early Thursday, it added.

The state weather service said Phanfone, Laotian for "animal", may strengthen into a typhoon with sustained peak winds of more than 120 kilometres (62 miles) an hour overnight Wednesday.

Other survivors posted pictures and videos on social media of crushed homes, buses half-submerged by brown floodwater, roads strewn with tree trunks, and coconut and banana plants being shredded by ferocious winds.

Coron's beaches emptied and boat tours were suspended on Christmas Day as Western tourists stayed indoors ahead of the onslaught.

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'Many of the tourist establishments here are closed, and some of our guests failed to arrive because their flights were cancelled, ' hotel receptionist Nina Edano told AFP by phone.

Scores of flights to the region also remained cancelled, though the populous capital Manila, on the northern section has so far been spared.

"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 defence official Reyden Cabrigas told AFP.

"We are aiming for zero casualties", Cabrigas added.

"They were safer at the evacuation centres".

An average of 20 typhoons cross the Philippines each year, with storms becoming fiercer in recent years.

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.

A July 2019 study by the Manila-based Asian Development Bank said the most frequent storms lop one percent off the Philippine economic output, with the stronger ones cutting output by almost three per cent.

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