Death Toll From Typhoon Skip at 129
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ The death toll from Typhoon Skip soared to 129 Wednesday, bringing to nearly 600 the number of people killed in three storms that pounded the Philippines in the past two weeks.
The toll included 39 deaths reported Wednesday and government officials said tens of thousands of people remained homeless. Authorities said they expected the toll to rise as communications are restored to stricken areas.
The government weather service downgraded Skip to a tropical storm Wednesday as it moved farther into the South China Sea toward Vietnam. A weather bulletin said the storm’s top winds had weakened to 69 mph.
The government’s Office of Civil Defense said the latest deaths reported were from the island of Tablas, which was in the path of Skip as it hammered the central Philippines Monday and Tuesday with heavy rains and winds up to 110 mph.
Nick Garcia, a civil defense spokesman, said a fatality report received via military radio from Tablas did not say how the 39 died. The report said all roads on the island, 160 miles south of Manila, were impassable, Garcia added.
Earlier, reports from the civil defense office and the Philippine Red Cross indicated that the hardest hit area was Palawan island, where 36 people were killed in widespread flooding. At least 70 others were reported missing on the island.
Also hard hit was Camarines Sur province on southeastern Luzon, where landslides and tornadoes killed 26 people, including 20 in an avalanche that hit Pasacao, a community 160 miles southeast of Manila. Thirteen other people were listed as missing in that avalanche, they said.
At least 13 people drowned in three Manila suburbs flooded by the rain- swollen lake Laguna de Bay, officials said.
Fifteen deaths reported were on the islands of Panay, Cebu, Marinduque and Mindanao.
The Social Services Department reported at least 1 million people were affected by Skip, meaning their homes or property were destroyed or damaged. The Office of Civil Defense said more than 70,000 people were homeless.
Skip was the 20th cyclone to hit the Philippines this year and the third since Typhoon Ruby ravaged virtually the entire country during the last week of October.
Officials said Typhoon Ruby killed 181 people on land, and at least 64 others perished in the sinking of the passenger ship Dona Marilyn. More than 200 others were reported missing and presumed dead in the sinking.
Officials said Tropical Storm Tess, which swept through the Visayas Islands on Saturday, caused floods that killed 11 people.
The Department of Agriculture said Typhoon Ruby caused $80.7 million in damage to crops. Rice losses accounted for half of the amount, the department said in a report to President Corazon Aquino.