TYPHOON Phanfone has killed no fewer 16 people in the Philippines, leaving a trail of devastation through the centre of the country.
Gusts of up to 190km/h (118mph) struck, destroying homes and power lines, and flooding is severe in some provinces.
Many people are missing. Thousands were left stranded as they tried to make their way home for Christmas.
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.
More than 6,000 people were killed in November that year, making it the Philippines’ deadliest typhoon.
Expressing his sympathy to a country overwhelming Roman Catholic, Pope Francis 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.
More than 58,000 people had been evacuated in advance and about 15,000 others were stranded at ports when ferry services were suspended.
The extent of the damage began to emerge only yesterday. Most deaths occurred in Iloilo and Capiz provinces.
One family was killed when they were swept away by a flash flood as they attempted to get to higher ground, the Philippine ABS-CBN network reports. At least 12 people reportedly went missing in Iloilo province alone.