Pope Francis prayed for victims of Typhoon Phanfone that left at least 28 people dead and thousands of others homeless in the central Philippines on Christmas Day.
“I join in the pain that affected the dear people of the Philippines because of the typhoon Phanfone,” said the pontiff during his weekly Angelus prayer.
The pope then invited those gathered at St. Peter’s Square to pray a Hail Mary for the Filipino people, “whom I love so much.”
“I pray for the numerous victims, for the injured. and for their families,” he said.
In 2015, Pope Francis visited the Philippines to meet with victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan that devastated the central part of the country.
Most of those who died in the latest disaster came from the province of Iloilo where six members of a family were found dead after being swept away by floodwaters.
Typhoon Phanfone made landfall in the central Philippines on Christmas Eve, causing damage to buildings and destroying houses on its path.
International development agency Oxfam and its partners said there is an urgent need for humanitarian assistance in areas affected by the typhoon.
Lot Felizco, Oxfam country director, said many of the affected communities were still recovering from the impacts of Typhoon Kammuri earlier in December and are in dire need of support.
“Many of the communities are still struggling to get back on their feet,” said Felizco.
Phanfone carved the same path as Typhoon Haiyan in 2013. Although weaker, its devastating impacts are widely felt, especially in the province of Leyte.
“Houses have been damaged and electric posts toppled,” said Oxfam staff Leah Payud who is based in Leyte. “We spent Christmas Day in total darkness,” she said.
Early assessments done by disaster response units indicate that coastal villages are in urgent need of emergency shelter materials, beddings, potable water, and food.
Power outages, loss of access to infrastructure such as schools and markets, and severe damage to houses along the shore also loom as serious problems post-disaster.
“It truly saddens us that thousands of families will enter the new year without food, or even homes,” said Esteban Masagca, executive director of the People’s Disaster Risk Reduction Network.
The Philippine Red Cross reported that a total of 10,587 individuals were sheltered in 35 evacuation centers in at least six provinces on Christmas Day.