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90 Dead in Philippines Typhoon

October 24, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Typhoon Babs headed toward southern China on Saturday after killing at least 90 people, flattening crops and leaving more than 320,000 homeless in the Philippines.

The toll in the central and northern Philippines was expected to rise as contacts were restored with remote areas where telephone service was knocked out and roads were blocked by landslides and flooding.

Philippines President Joseph Estrada declared three provinces and a city in the worst hit area on the southern tip of Luzon island under a state of calamity. He was expected to add more provinces to the list once the full extent of the damage is determined.

At least 53 people died in landslides on rain-soaked Catanduanes island, where Babs first crossed land Thursday, said Renato Arevalo of the Office of Civil Defense. Seventeen others died in slides in nearby Camarines Sur province.

Fourteen people drowned, two people were hit by falling trees, one man died of shock, two children were killed by a landslide, and a fireman was crushed to death after his van overturned on a slippery road, officials said. Eight people were missing.

Flying debris injured 102 people in Sorsogon province, part of the impoverished Bicol region along the Philippines’ eastern coast, Arevalo said.

More than 320,000 people in the area were forced to flee their homes, the Office of Civil Defense said. Tens of thousands were stranded as ports were shut and ships were forbidden to sail.

In Manila, most government offices closed at noon because of the storm. Estrada ordered a forced evacuation of slum-dwellers living near swollen rivers.

About 15,700 people were removed from low-lying areas in the capital, officials said.

``Despite the situation, some people still refuse to leave their homes to guard their meager property,″ said Jesusa Villanueva, principal of a school being used as an evacuation center.

Some people, cradling chickens and dogs, stood on the roofs of their flooded homes, a few possessions piled next to them. Others used tire tubes to float toward safer ground.

Hundreds of people living along a seawall near the oceanside U.S. Embassy were evacuated because of high waves. In suburban Marikina, about 4,500 people living on the bank of the swollen Marikina River were also moved to evacuation centers.

In northern Nueva Ecija province, more than 50 people crowded onto the roof of a house in the town of Gapan to escape floodwaters. About 215,000 acres of rice were destroyed in the province, officials said.

Babs also pounded areas around the Mount Pinatubo volcano with heavy rain, unleashing 5-foot-high avalanches of volcanic material from the mountain’s slopes. Most of the material was carried safely away by swollen rivers.

It was second devastating storm in the Philippines in a week. Last week, Typhoon Zeb killed at least 74 people in the northern Philippines and 43 more in Taiwan and Japan.

By early Saturday, Babs had moved out over the South China Sea, west-northwest of Dagupan City in Pangasinan province, weather officials said. It had sustained winds of 75 mph, with gusts up to 95 mph, and was headed toward southern China.

Meteorological officials expect the typhoon to reintensify over water as it neared Hong Kong early Sunday.

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