The Philippines devasted by Christmas typhoon; at least 20 dead

A wet and miserable Christmas Day for residents in Tacloban, Leyte province in the central Philippines, who walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Phanfone (Photo: CommonDreams.com)

Typhoon Phanfone has pummelled sections of The Philippines leaving at least 20 people dead and thousands without food, water and shelter after making landfall into Christmas Day.

The powerful storm stranded many people in sea and airports at the peak of holiday travel, setting off landslides and flooding low-lying villages.

Phanfone destroyed countless houses, downed trees and electrical poles, as well as causing total power disruption to entire provinces.

With gusts of up to 190km/h (118mph) Typhoon Phanfone left trail of devastation through the centre of the country.

Access to some islands off the coast has been hampered by the suspension of shipping by the coastguard.

Phanfone struck close to regions hit by Typhoon Haiyan, the most powerful storm ever to make landfall, in 2013.

Pope Francis expressing his sympathy to a mostly Roman Catholic country said, “I join in the pain that affected the dear people of the Philippines because of the Typhoon Phanfone. I pray for the numerous victims, for the injured and for their families.”

Typhoon Phanfone made landfall on Tuesday night but continued to pass over the many islands of the central Philippines throughout Christmas Day – with the full extent of the damage being evidenced on Thursday.