Pope Francis prays for victims of typhoon Ursula in Philippines

Reuters

Posted at Dec 27 2019 05:13 AM | Updated as of Dec 27 2019 07:05 AM

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Pope Francis on Thursday prayed for the Philippines after a typhoon struck the country over Christmas, killing at least 21 people.

"I join in the pain that affected the dear people of the Philippines because of the typhoon Phanfone," Francis said.

The pontiff then asked the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly Angelus prayer to join him in a prayer for the Philippines.

Typhoon Phanfone (Ursula) hit the Philippines late on Tuesday (December 24) with winds of up to 120 kph (75 mph) and gusts of 150 kph, heavy rain and flooding.

More than 58,000 people were evacuated from their homes before the storm, which caused widespread property damage, and more than 15,000 were stranded at ports when ferries were suspended. Scores of flights were cancelled.

The fatalities were in the central provinces of Capiz, Iloilo and Leyte, including a 13-year-old boy who was electrocuted, a man killed by a tree branch and another killed in a car accident, the disaster agency said.

The typhoon left the Philippines on Wednesday (December 25) night and was out over the South China Sea, moving west.

An average of 20 typhoons hit the Philippines each year, with storms