AVOIDING 'BABS' -- THOUSANDS EVACUATED, STRANDED IN BICOL
Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City, Oct. 22, 1998 - Reports reaching the National Disaster Coordinating Council indicate that Catanduanes province in the Bicol region bore the brunt of supertyphoon Loleng (international code name Babs) last night with winds gusting up to 235 kilometers per hour. Thousands of families in low-lying areas fled to safer grounds, filling public schools that have been converted into evacuation centers.
Catanduanes Congressman Leandro Verceles said many people in his province stayed inside their homes, although hundreds of families have moved to temporary refugee centers.
Sorsogon Congressman Francis Escudero reports that more than 1,000 families were evacuated from coastal towns of Sorsogon. He also expressed concern over the thousands of travellers stranded in Matnog town, on the southern tip of Luzon. Matnog is where vehicular ferries dock to load buses and other vehicles bound for Samar, and from there to other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.
"The ferry boats that carry passengers and buses from the municipality of Matnog in Luzon to the central Visayas islands are not allowed to sail. Our last count is that there are at least 100 buses stranded there," Escudero said. "We have requested the bus companies in Manila and in the Visayas to stop the trips."
In Albay, local officials said they hoped to evacuate up to 100,000 people before the brunt of Loleng was felt last night.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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