A powerful typhoon with gusts of up to 235 kilometres (146 miles) an hour hit the Philippines late Sunday, cutting off electricity to millions and disrupting Christmas celebrations for tens of thousands who fled its approach, officials said.
The military and local governments earlier moved at least 102,000 people from the coasts, Catanduanes and the nearby Bicol peninsula, an impoverished region which is home to more than five million, provincial officials said.
“Most of Bicol is without electricity,” Joaquin Berces, a member of the region’s civil defence office told AFP as residents hunkered down in the dark.
Officials said there were no immediate reports of damage or casualties from the storm, one of the strongest this year to hit the disaster-prone archipelago on the Pacific Rim.
“We stayed indoors for our own safety and we probably won’t know the extent of the damage until tomorrow,” he said by telephone from Legazpi city, the regional capital about 350 kilometres southeast of Manila.
Some 20 typhoons or lesser storms strike the Philippines each year, routinely killing hundreds of people, and Bicol is often the first region to be hit.