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At least 20 killed as typhoon hits the Philippines

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Phanfone tears roofs off houses, topples electric posts

MANILA: A typhoon that swept across remote villages and popular tourist areas of the central Philippines on Christmas Day claimed at least 20 lives, the authorities said yesterday.

Typhoon Phanfone tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts. Videos from the typhoon's path show fallen trees and strong winds pummelling flimsy houses.

Local disaster officials cut felled trees to clear blocked roads. Most of the 20 deaths reported by officials were due to drowning, falling trees and accidental electrocution.

Phanfone also hit Boracay, Coron and other holiday destinations.

Mobile phone and Internet access on Boracay was cut during the storm and the networks remained down yesterday, making assessment of the damage there difficult.

"Communication lines are down. Electricity is still down," said police chief Jonathan Pablito of Malay town in Aklan province.


He said ferry services between Boracay and Aklan - the main way to travel to and from the holiday island - were still not operating yesterday, even though the storm had passed.

"We have no news from Coast Guard if ships were allowed to sail. Since the 24th... all those going to and coming from the island were not able to cross."

The airport at Kalibo town in Aklan, which services Boracay, was badly damaged, according to a Korean tourist who was stranded there.

"Roads remain blocked but some efforts have been made to clear away the damage. It's pretty bad," Jung Byung-joon said via Instagram.

"Everything within 100m of the airport looks broken. There are a lot of frustrated people at the airport as flights have been cancelled.

"Taxis are still running, but it is windy and still raining so no one wants to leave the airport, including me."

Another Korean tourist stuck at the airport said she had been unable to make contact with her friend on Borocay yesterday.

"I tried to call my friend in Boracay and wasn't able to get through. Maybe something isn't working," Ms Dahae Gong told AFP via Instagram.

"I don't know when I will be able to go home."

Tens of thousands of people had to evacuate their homes. Many were not able to return to their families, with ferries and plane services suspended.

Among those killed was a police officer electrocuted by a toppled post while patrolling. - AFP, AP