Residents walk past a house damaged during Typhoon Ursula (international name: Phanfone) in Tacloban, Leyte on Wednesday, December 25. Typhoon Ursula pummeled the central Philippines on Christmas Day, bringing a wet and miserable holiday season to millions in the mainly Catholic nation. | photo

At least 28 people have died after Typhoon Ursula swept across villages and towns in the Visayas, the Philippine National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported on Friday, December 27.

Of the 28, 13 were recorded in Iloilo, where six members of a family were found dead when strong floodwaters swept them away in the town of Batad.

In Western Visayas, four people were killed in Capiz and two in Aklan; meanwhile, in Eastern Visayas, three were found dead in Eastern Samar, two in Leyte, and one each in Southern Leyte, Biliran, and Samar. Central Visayas has so far only recorded one death in Cebu.

According to the NDDRMC, the death toll is expected to climb even further.

“The likelihood is present that the casualty count will still increase. We’re hoping against it,” national disaster agency spokesman Mark Timbal told AFP news.

The agency also said 12 people remaining missing, while two are injured.

Ursula made landfall in the eastern province of Samar and packed maximum sustained winds of 120 km per hour (75 miles per hour) with gusts up to 150 kph.

Ursula, the 21st cyclone to hit the country in 2019, tracked a similar path to Super Typhoon Yolanda (international name, Haiyan) — the country’s deadliest storm on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

As of 3 a.m. on Friday, the typhoon was seen 335 kilometers west of Subic, Zambales, packing maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 150 km/h. The tail-end of a cold front is affecting Northern Luzon.

Over 185,000 people have been affected by the typhoon, while more than 43,000 have taken refuge in evacuation centers, according to the NDRRMC.  

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