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Philippines Typhoon Kills 15

October 23, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Typhoon Babs pummeled the northern Philippines with heavy winds and rain today, killing at least 15 people and leaving dozens missing. Parts of Manila were submerged and many businesses closed for the second straight day.

Thousands of people were stranded as ports were shut down and ships forbidden to sail. Many roads were flooded or blocked by landslides throughout the central and northern Philippines.

Babs was centered this morning over San Carlos City in Pangasinan province, 106 miles north of Manila. Its sustained winds weakened to 75 mph with gusts up to 94 mph, weather officials said.

In the hard-hit Bicol region, one of the Philippines’ poorest areas, more than 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes, Red Cross officials said. About 10,000 jammed the town of Matnog waiting for ferry service to nearby Samar Island, police said.

Police said at least 36 people were buried in a landslide in the town of San Miguel in Catanduanes, where the typhoon first hit land Thursday. Only six bodies had been recovered, regional police chief Renato Arevalo said.

The storm also damaged telephone relay towers, cutting communications to most of the region.

Arevalo said 25 gold panners in the town of Aroroy on Masbate Island were also reported missing today. No other details were available.

Franklin Castillo, director of the Office of Civil Defense, said the dead included six people drowned, a man who was hit by a falling coconut tree and a fireman who was crushed when his van overturned on a slippery road.

In Manila, President Joseph Estrada ordered most government offices to close at noon today, with the exception of disaster relief agencies.

About 15,700 people, including many squatters, were evacuated from low-lying areas in Manila, officials said.

About 1,000 people living along a seawall near the oceanside U.S. Embassy were evacuated because of heavy waves. In suburban Marikina, about 4,500 people living on the bank of the swollen Marikina River were also moved to evacuation centers.

At least 12 domestic flights and one international flight were canceled.

After skirting Manila, Babs veered north toward the area devastated last week by Typhoon Zeb, which killed at least 74 people in the Philippines.

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