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Dozens Killed As Typhoon Hits Philippines


At least 28 people are dead after a typhoon slammed into the Philippines on Christmas Day. It was the second deadly typhoon to hit the Philippines this month alone and the 21st storm there this year. Now, the toll might have been a lot worse, but tens of thousands of residents were evacuated from low-lying areas before the storm hit. I'm on the line now with Ana Santos. She's a reporter based in Manila. Hi, Ana.

ANA SANTOS: Hi. Thanks for having me.

KING: We appreciate you being here. May I ask, what is the extent of the damage there? What are you seeing?

SANTOS: The latest update that I got from the government was that Typhoon Phanfone is no longer directly affecting the Philippines, but that doesn't mean that we're out of the woods just yet. As the typhoon exits the country, its tail end is dumping rain over certain pockets of the country. So the authorities are still on watch for flash floods and possible landslides, especially in the mountainous regions.

Now, the authorities told me that their main priority right now is to reconnect the electricity lines and also to re-establish mobile connections so that they can better get an assessment of the damage in the affected areas and more importantly establish a sense of normalcy for the affected citizens. You have to remember, this typhoon hit during Christmastime.

I also spoke to one resident in Central Visayas. His name is Jonreen Durana (ph). And he says that it's not only their homes that have been battered but also their spirits. Here's an excerpt of my chat with him.

JONREEN DURANA: (Non-English language spoken).

SANTOS: So Jonreen Durana is saying that he's a resident of eastern Samar, and this is the area that was also hit by Typhoon Haiyan six years ago. Haiyan was the strongest typhoon ever recorded at the time. And he hasn't been able to reach his family, and he's very worried about what has been going on with them because the mobile connection is cut. He said that he's very sad that six years after Haiyan, they're just starting to get back on their feet. They've been whipped again by this typhoon, and there are several areas that have lost everything.

KING: That is extraordinary. People spend six years getting back on their feet, and then there's another storm. Do we have a sense of what it's going to take to get this area back to normal?

SANTOS: It's really difficult to tell right now how long it will take for a particular area to get back on its feet or to recover. The typhoon made landfall seven times and hit a wide area of the archipelago. And the damage is - you know, it varies in extent depending on the area.

But I will tell you that I spoke to the governor of Mindoro. This is a province that was hit by an earlier typhoon at the start of the month and then was hit again this month. He said that there is, like, 9,000 residents that have completely lost their homes. And so he's appealing for shelter materials. Now, sadly, rebuilding will depend a lot on the extent of damage and, unfortunately, if there's other variables that we can't help, like another natural disaster that may come.

KING: OK. Journalist Ana Santos in Manila. Ana, thanks so much for joining us.

SANTOS: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.