The death toll from Typhoon Phanfone that struck the Philippines on Christmas Day has risen to 28, up from 16, and will likely climb further.

The storm, with wind gusts of up to 200km/h, swept across remote villages and popular tourist destinations in the central Philippines on Christmas Day.

The authorities said the casualty count is expected to rise further when internet and mobile phone services are restored in some of the worst affected areas.

The country's national disaster agency has said at least 12 people were still listed as missing.

The Philippines is a mostly Catholic nation, and Phanfone ruined or disrupted Christmas festivities for hundreds of thousands of people.

The typhoon displaced tens of thousands living on the coast and low-lying areas who were forced to celebrate Christmas in evacuation centres.

Others missed family reunions, with plane and ferry services cancelled.

It also hit Boracay island, famed for its white sand beaches which draws more than a million tourists a year.

Coconut trees were uprooted on Boracay and windows in some resorts were blown in during the storm, and ferry services to and from the island were cut on Wednesday and yesterday.

However, no one died on Boracay, and the damage was not on the scale of badly hit coastal towns elsewhere in the central Philippines.

The Philippines is the first major landmass facing the Pacific typhoon belt, and is hit by an average of around 20 storms a year.

Phanfone, locally named "Ursula", is the 21st cyclone to hit the Philippines in 2019.

Many of the storms are deadly, and they typically wipe out harvests, homes and infrastructure, keeping millions of people perennially poor.

Though much weaker, Phanfone tracked a similar path as Super Typhoon Haiyan - the country's deadliest storm on record which left more than 7,300 people dead or missing in 2013.

Phanfone blew out into the South China Sea yesterday morning.

It was tracking towards Vietnam but forecast to weaken significantly into a low pressure area well before making landfall again.