Christmas typhoon leaves 16 dead in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A typhoon that barreled through the central Philippines over Christmas left at least 16 people dead and forced thousands to flee their homes, officials said.

Typhoon Phanfone made landfall on Christmas Eve and hit several islands in the Visayas group on Christmas day in the predominantly Catholic country. It brought heavy rains, strong winds and flash floods that caused thousands to evacuate their homes and left thousands more stranded in ports around the country.

Several people were still reported missing on Thursday, according to disaster management officials.

Phanfone weakened slightly on its way toward the South China Sea with maximum sustained winds of up to 120 kilometers (75 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

It was expected to leave Philippine territory by Saturday.

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