Deadly Christmas Day typhoon hits the Philippines
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.
CNN Philippines had previously reported that national and local agencies had announced 21 deaths. That figure has since been revised as agencies attempt to verify the number of those affected.
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.
“Let’s hope and pray that they are safe,” Eastern Samar Governor Ben Evardone said in a statement.
Around 2,351 people have been affected by the typhoon and 1,654 people were taking refuge in evacuation centers, according to the Philippine national disaster management agency, NDRRMC. A total of 58,400 people were pre-emptively evacuated ahead of the typhoon, the NDRRMC said.
The agency said 87 cities and municipalities experienced power outages, and by Thursday, 24 of those have had power restored.
Phanfone followed a similar path to the devastating Typhoon Haiyan in 2013, which was one of the most powerful storms on record and killed at least 6,000 people.
The full extent of the damage is yet to be determined as power and communications in several areas remain cut off.
Thousands of people who were traveling over the Christmas period had their flights and ferries canceled due to the typhoon. Some 115 domestic flights were canceled and more than 15,700 passengers left stranded, according to the NDRRMC.
On Thursday, Phafone was tracking over the South China Sea with winds of a 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour. The storm is expected to maintain typhoon intensity for at least the next 24 hours as it moves westward, but will weaken to a tropical depression before making landfall in northern Vietnam on Sunday, according to CNN meteorologists.
This story has been updated to include a revised total death toll.
CNN’s Akanksha Sharma contributed reporting.