Distraught survivors surveyed their damaged homes on the eve of the traditional nine-day Christmas vigil that Filipinos observe with dawn masses and rice cakes.

Christmas is the most celebrated holiday in the Philippines, where 80 percent of its 100 million people are Catholic, and decorations such as colourful lights and lanterns have already been put up in most towns.

Melor blew out the windows of Pesigan's two-storey brick and wood house in Bulan, a small farming town about 350 kilometres southeast of the capital, Manila, and she survived the storm by sheltering in a nearby shop.

The typhoon tore in off the Pacific Ocean yesterday afternoon and hit farming and fishing communities in the eastern Philippines with winds of up to 185 kilometres an hour.

Three people were killed in floods in Northern Samar province, which faces the Pacific, municipal disaster officer Jonathan Baldo told DZMM radio.

It was due to move out into the South China Sea today afternoon. Authorities had yet to make contact with some of the badly hit areas and it was unclear if or by how much the death toll would climb.

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