MANILA－Typhoon Phanfone barreled into the central Philippines on Tuesday, bringing “violent winds” over Eastern Samar and Leyte provinces, the Philippine state weather bureau said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration said Phanfone, which strengthened from a severe tropical storm into a typhoon, hit land at 4:45 pm local time in Eastern Samar Province.
Tens of thousands were stranded at shuttered ports or evacuation centers at the height of the Christmas 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.
More than 16,000 people spent the night in improvised shelters in schools, gyms and government buildings as the typhoon made landfall on Tuesday, civil defense officials said.
Though weaker, Phanfone was tracking a similar path to Super Typhoon Haiyan－the country’s deadliest cyclone on record that left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.
“It was frightening. The glass windows shattered and we took cover by the stairs,” Ailyn Metran said after she and her four-year-old child spent the night at the local state weather service office where her husband worked.
The typhoon ripped a metal window frame off the building and dropped it onto a car parked outside, she said.
With just two hours’ sleep, the family returned to their home in Tacloban city on Wednesday to find their two dogs safe, but the floor was covered in mud and a felled tree rested atop a nearby house.
The weather office said the typhoon strengthened slightly overnight on Tuesday and was gusting at 195 kilometers an hour, which can knock down small trees and destroy flimsy houses.
Survivors took to social media with pictures and videos of crushed homes, buses half-submerged in brown floodwaters, roads strewn with tree trunks, and coconut and banana plants being shredded by ferocious winds.
The typhoon wrecked the holiday plans of Manila-based Filipinos who make use of the long Christmas and New Year vacation to spend time with their loved ones in the provinces.
More than 25,000 people remained stranded at ports on Wednesday with ferry services still shut down, the coast guard said.
Scores of flights to the region also remained canceled, though the populous capital Manila, on the northern section, has so far been spared.
The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific cyclone belt. As such, the archipelago gets hit by an average of 20 storms and typhoons each year.