Death toll in Philippines rises to at least 16 after Typhoon Phanfone's Christmas Day strike

Eric Leister

As AccuWeather meteorologists have been warning about since last week, Phanfone made landfall in the Eastern Samar province of the Philippines on Tuesday afternoon, local time.

Phanfone, known locally in the Philippines as Ursula, struck the country as a typhoon with the equivalent strength of a Category 1 hurricane in the Atlantic or East Pacific basins.

Through Christmas day, Phanfone moved across the country bringing damaging winds and flooding rainfall.

On Wednesday evening, the storm strengthened to the equivalent of a Category 2 hurricane in the Atlantic Basin despite interaction with the islands of the Philippines.

At least 16 people died in from the typhoon, according to CNN.

Over 23,000 passengers were stranded at ports in Bicol, Visayas, Tagalog and Mindanao due to the storm, the Philippine Coast Guard reported.

Strong winds were reported at Kalibo International Airport with the Typhoon moving through the region, causing a partial ceiling collapse.

An unknown number of people living near the coast or in areas prone to flooding and mudslides were encouraged to evacuate on Tuesday, but many were reluctant to leave their homes ahead of Christmas, according to the South China Morning Post.

Weather has since improved across the Philippines in the wake of Phanfone.

"Some moisture from the system may be pulled across the southern China coast over the weekend, though it is not expected to be heavy enough to lead to flooding," Douty said.

A period of more tranquil weather across the West Pacific basin is expected to follow in the wake of Phanfone.

This satellite image shows Typhoon Phanfone tracking across the central Philippines on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo/RAMMB)