A Christmas tragedy hit the Philippines this week.
A devastating typhoon swept through the country leaving at least 28 people dead and causing thousands of others to leave their homes and their Christmas celebrations.
The typhoon, named Phanfone, first made landfall at the Eastern Samar province on Christmas Eve. From there, it traveled right through the center of the country on Christmas Day.
As would be expected with such a storm, heavy rain and high winds caused flooding and landslides, destroyed property, and knocked out electricity to entire regions of the country.
“You can’t see anybody because there was a total blackout, you can’t hear anything,” Cindy Ferrer, a member of the Regional Office of the Civil Defense, said, describing the town of Batad, located in the Iloilo province. “The town looked like a ghost town.”
28 people have been found dead, and at least 12 others are still missing. Officials warned that the death toll may continue to rise.
Roughly 58,000 people were forced to evacuate their homes on the holiday, the BBC reported. The situation was exacerbated by the holiday travels that many individuals were undertaking at the time.
“More than 25,000 people were stranded in seaports across the central region and outlying provinces after the coast guard prohibited ferries and cargo ships from venturing into dangerously choppy waters,” Breitbart reports. “Dozens of international and domestic flights to and from the region were canceled, including to popular beach and surfing resorts.”
First responders, including army troops, police, and volunteers, also spent their Christmas performing emergency rescues and caring for survivors.
The Phillippines is largely a Roman Catholic country, and Christmas is widely celebrated — or, at least, it would have been celebrated, but for the typhoon.
This kind of weather is not unusual for the Philippines, which experiences roughly 20 typhoons per year. Typhoons in the past have done significantly more damage than Phanfone; for example, Typhoon Haiyan killed more than 7,300 in 2013.
Hopefully, the country and its residents can recover from this tragedy and, perhaps, celebrate a late Christmas. Our prayers are certainly with them.