At least 12 people were killed and more than 300,000 sought emergency shelter as the typhoon charged across the Pacific Ocean, ramming into the country.

Super Typhoon Rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the Philippines.
Super Typhoon Rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the Philippines. (AFP)

A powerful typhoon that battered the central Philippines has left at least 12 people dead in massive floods that trapped residents on roofs and damaged buildings including a hotel and an airport.

"As of now the monitored or initial casualties number is about 12 in total from all those regions affected," the executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Ricardo Jalad said on Friday.

More than 300,000 people fled their homes and beachfront resorts as Typhoon Rai pummelled the southern and central regions of the country, knocking out communications in some areas and tearing roofs off buildings.

Officials were assessing the damage and casualties wrought by one of the strongest typhoons to hit the country in recent years but said efforts were hampered by widespread power outages, downed communications and roads clogged with fallen trees and debris.

Rai was a super typhoon when it slammed into Siargao Island on Thursday, packing maximum sustained winds of 195 kilometres an hour. By Friday, wind speeds had eased to 155 kilometres an hour, the state weather forecaster said.

'Hit by a bomb'

"We are seeing people walking in the streets, many of them shell-shocked," ABS-CBN correspondent Dennis Datu reported from the hard-hit city of Surigao on the southern island of Mindanao. 

A large number of houses and buildings, including an airport and a hotel, were damaged by the wind or inundated by floodwaters, officials said.

"All buildings sustained heavy damage, including the provincial disaster office. It looks like it's been hit by a bomb."

Officials from the national disaster agency said it was too early to determine the extent of the damage across the country, but initial reports suggested it was "not that massive" and they were not expecting "many casualties".

Scores of flights were cancelled across the country and dozens of ports temporarily closed.

READ MORE: Tens of thousands evacuate as super typhoon Rai slams into Philippines

Source: AFP