28 die after typhoon Ursula hits Philippines

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A strong typhoon that barreled through the central Philippines left at least 28 dead and 12 missing, and forced thousands to flee their homes, devastating Christmas celebrations in the predominantly Roman Catholic country, the New Zealand Herald reports.

Typhoon Phanfone stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, set off landslides, flooded low-lying villages, destroyed houses, downed trees and electrical poles and knocked out power in entire provinces. One disaster response officer described the battered coastal town of Batad in Iloilo province as a “ghost town” on Christmas Day.

CNN reports that Typhoon Phanfone, known locally as Typhoon Ursula, first made landfall on Eastern Samar province on Tuesday, bringing heavy rain and storm surges. It hit as the equivalent of a Category 1 hurricane, packing sustained wind speeds of 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, with gusts of 195 kilometers (121 miles) per hour.

“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can’t hear anything. The town looked like a ghost town,” Cindy Ferrer of the regional Office of the Civil Defense said by phone.

via New Zealand Herald / CNN

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