MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Tourists on the popular Philippine holiday island of Boracay were stranded Thursday after a typhoon swept through Christmas Day, killing at least 16 people in other parts of the county.
Typhoon Phanfone, with wind gusts reaching 200 kilometres (125 miles) an hour, tore roofs off houses and toppled electric posts as it ripped through the central Philippines Wednesday.
At least 16 people were killed in villages and towns in the Visayas, the central third of the Philippines, according to disaster agency officials.
Phanfone also hit Boracay, Coron and other holiday destinations that are famed for their white-sand beaches and popular with foreign tourists.
Mobile phone and internet access on Boracay was cut during the storm Wednesday and the networks remained down Thursday, making assessment of the damage there difficult.
“Still, communication lines are down. Electricity is still down,” Jonathan Pablito, police chief of Malay town in Aklan province, which is on a neighboring island to Boracay, told AFP.
Pablito said ferry services between Boracay and Aklan, the main way to travel to and from the holiday island, were not operating Thursday.
“We have no news from coast guard if ships were allowed to sail. Since the 24th... all those going to the island and coming from the island weren’t able to cross,” he said.
The airport at Kalibo town in Aklan, which services Boracay, was badly damaged, according to a Korean tourist who was stranded there and provided images to AFP.
“Roads remain blocked, but some efforts have been made to clear away the damage. It’s pretty bad,” Jung Byung Joon said via Instagram messenger. “Everything within 100 meters of the airport looks broken. There are a lot of frustrated people at the airport as flights have been cancelled.”
Though much weaker, Phanfone tracked a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan, the country’s deadliest storm on record, which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.