A powerful typhoon has struck the northern Philippines, leaving at least 23 fishermen missing.

Typhoon Utor made landfall on the east coast of Luzon early on Monday, bringing torrential rain and sustained winds of 175kph and gusts of 210kph.

Utor is the most powerful storm to hit the country this year and it ripped roofs from houses and felled power lines.

In the capital, Manila, some 200km to the south of the storm, schools were closed and a number of domestic flights were cancelled.

A thousand residents in central Bicol region were forced to spend the night in temporary shelters while Aurora province was without power.

Although there have been no reported deaths overland, there are fears for some of the more remote towns and villages, which have suffered both power outages and road closures because of landslides.

Video footage seen by Al Jazeera shows people desperately clinging to debris as they were swept along by raging torrents of water. Their fate is not known but a rising death toll seems inevitable.

This is the twelfth storm to hit the Philippines in 2013. The country can expect to experience approximately 20 during the year.

The southern islands were struck by the world’s deadliest storm in December 2012 when 1,146 people died when Typhoon Bopha struck.

Utor is expected to gather strength as it heads northwestwards across the South China Sea towards China.

By 00GMT on Wednesday, Utor is predicted to be lying just offshore between Haikou on Hainan and Zhanjiang, Guangdong on the mainland. Sustained winds of 185kph and gusts of 230kph are expected to produce a storm sure of around 3 metres.

Computer model rainfall predictions across northern Hainan are in the order of 300 to 500mm which would cause significant flooding.

Source: Al Jazeera