Typhoon Phanfone brought a wet, miserable and terrifying Christmas to millions in central Philippines, after it struck on Tuesday.
Tens of 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.
The typhoon crumpled houses like accordions, toppled trees and blacked out cities in the Philippines’ most storm-prone region.
No deaths have been confirmed, but rescuers said they have yet to reach the more isolated areas, some in neck-deep floods.
Though 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.
More than 16,000 people spent the night in improvised shelters in schools, gyms and government buildings as the typhoon made landfall Tuesday, civil defence officials said.
“It was frightening. The glass windows shattered and we took cover by the stairs,” Ailyn Metran told AFP after she and her four-year-old child spent the night at the local state weather service office where her husband worked.
Survivors took to social media with pictures and videos of crushed homes, buses half-submerged in brown-coloured floods, roads strewn with tree trunks, and coconut and banana plants being shredded by ferocious winds.
The typhoon hit land as millions of Filipinos trooped to once-yearly clan reunions centred on the “noche buena”, a sumptuous midnight meal that is the highlight of the Catholic nation’s holidays.
More than 25,000 people remained stranded at ports on Christmas Day with ferry services still shut down, the coast guard said.
Scores of flights to the region also remained cancelled, though the populous capital Manila, on the northern section has so far been spared.