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Police Rescue 45 People, 212 Stranded in Floods and Avalanches

August 31, 1992

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Police rescued 45 people today from the roofs of their homes after three days of floods and avalanches from the Mount Pinatubo volcano isolated their village north of Manila.

At least nine people have been killed and nearly 10,000 have been evacuated to schools, churches and government refugee centers, officials said.

Military helicopters lifted about a dozen hungry and rain-drenched men and women from the roofs while army trucks rescued the rest in Tabon village in Mabalacat town, Vice Mayor Reynaldo Candelaria said.

Candelaria said 212 people remained stranded on a former camp site of a construction company, which has become a virtual island, in the nearby village of San Pedro.

In Tabon, about 1,000 houses have been completely covered by avalanches of volcanic debris called lahar, Candelaria said.

Mabalacat, 50 miles north of Manila, and 25 other towns in the central Luzon region are under water after about two weeks of monsoon rains, the Office of Civil Defense said.

The rains loosened tons of volcanic debris around Mount Pinatubo from last year’s eruption, triggering avalanches that have buried entire communities and clogged river channels, causing the floods.

The avalanches and floods have also destroyed roads and bridges, hampering travel to northern provinces of the Philippines’ main island.

On Monday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported that Pinatubo shook with 491 low frequency earthquakes, indicating rising magma, during the past 24-hour period ending at 6:00 a.m.

The institute reported secondary explosions Sunday resulting from water coming into contact with still superheated debris creating an ash plume 3.4 miles high and scattering ash over many towns.

The institute said Pinatubo is quietly extruding lava, forming a dome in the crater of the volcano, 60 miles northwest of Manila.

It said that an explosive eruption was still possible because of the large number of low frequency quakes and increasing pressure inside the volcano.

Pinatubo exploded in one of the century’s most violent eruptions in June 1991, killing 700 people and forcing hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes.

Update hourly