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2 Die in Philippines Typhoon

October 22, 1998

MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Typhoon Babs swept across the central Philippines on Thursday, ripping roofs off bamboo houses, triggering landslides and forcing widespread evacuations.

Disaster officials said at least two people were killed and two others were injured by the storm. In Camarines Sur province, three fishermen were missing after they were washed away by surging waves.

Schools, government offices and businesses were closed in Manila as the capital prepared for a direct hit.

``We are advising people to evacuate if they are living in low-lying areas because of the power of the typhoon,″ said weather forecaster Leny Ruiz. ``This typhoon is going to be no joke.″

The typhoon comes only a week after parts of the northern Philippines were devastated by Typhoon Zeb, which killed at least 117 people in all.

Babs’ strong winds knocked down trees and power lines, leaving many remote areas of the central Philippines without communications. Authorities appealed for help from amateur radio operators.

Early Thursday, the typhoon was centered over San Miguel Bay in Camarines Norte, 160 miles southeast of Manila. It had sustained winds of 103 mph, with gusts of up to 125 mph.

After striking Manila, the storm was expected to threaten several northern provinces surrounding the Mount Pinatubo volcano. Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991 left millions of tons of volcanic debris on its slopes _ debris that may cause landslides and floods during heavy rains.

At least 12,500 people were evacuated in Catanduanes Island, which was struck by Babs late Wednesday, disaster officials said. The island was without electricity after a power generating barge was washed away from its moorings to sea.

On Negros island, about 6,200 people were evacuated from eight villages after flooding eroded a river bank and threatened to sweep away houses, disaster officials said.

Babs also forced a halt to ferry service at many ports, stranding thousands of passengers.

Disaster relief director Franklin Castillo said government efforts were concentrated on evacuating people from coastal villages. At least 90 areas in Bicol province have been evacuated, he said.

A landslide was reported in nearby Calauag in Quezon province, causing no casualties but blocking roads, he said. Other landslides, floods and damage to houses were also reported.

At least 16 domestic air flights were canceled.

Typhoon Zeb struck last week, killing 74 people and leaving 37 missing in the Philippines. About 415,000 Filipinos fled their homes at the height of the typhoon.

Zeb then struck Taiwan, killing 31 people, before cutting across Japan, where it killed at least 12 people.

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