Christmas typhoon death toll in Philippines climbs to 41

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The number of deaths from a powerful storm that hit the Philippines on Christmas reached 41, authorities said on Sunday, with tens of thousands still in evacuation centres.

Typhoon Phanfone left the Philippines on Saturday after devastating several islands in the Central Visayas region, including popular tourist destinations, but the extent of the damage continued to grow as assessments came in.

The death toll of 41 – up from 28 on Friday – included three crew members who died after their boat capsized in strong winds, a policeman electrocuted by a toppled post and a man struck by a felled tree.

“We’re hoping that there will be no more fatalities,” national disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal said as authorities searched for 12 missing people.

The agency’s latest report showed more than 1.6 million people were affected by the typhoon, which damaged more than 260,000 houses and forced almost a hundred thousand people to flee to emergency shelters.

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.

The government estimated that the storm caused damage to agriculture and infrastructure worth $21 million (Dh77.13m).

Power lines and internet connections remain down in some areas after Phanfone’s gusts of up to 200 kilometres per hour toppled electric posts and trees.

Typhoon Phanfone, known in the Philippines as Ursula, is the 21st cyclone to sweep through the storm-prone nation, which is the first major land mass facing the Pacific typhoon belt.

Many of the storms are deadly and often wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people poor.


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