WORST TYPHOON TO HIT CATANDUANES IN LIVING MEMORY
Manila, Oct. 24, 1998 - Supertyphoon Loleng is the worst storm to hit Catanduanes province in living memory, said Catanduanes native Senator Francisco Tatad in a radio interview this morning.
Tatad was in constant touch with his provincial coordinators in the early hours of the typhoon's fury, before strong winds knocked down power lines and communication towers.
Catanduanes Rep. Leandro Verceles reported that about 80 percent of the buildings and homes in the capital town of Virac were destroyed by the typhoon' 250 kilometers-per-hour (kph) center winds.
Even air-conditioning units of the provincial capitol were ripped away by the gusts which also forced some 9,000 families to flee their homes.
Catanduanes Gov. Hector Sanchez has declared a state of calamity in the province.
Defense Secretary Orlando Mercado, chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, this morning led a government team on board several helicopters bound for Catanduanes, reportedly province hardest it by supertyphoon Loleng which hit land with undiminished power in the Bicol Peninsula. Its winds weakened to 150 kph only after crossing Bicol.
The Catanduanes Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC)reported that the death toll in the province rose to 53 as more reports of casualties came in.
Rescue workers raced against time to extricate bodies and possible survivors in a massive landslide in Barangay Kilikilihan, San Miguel town in Catanduanes where at least 36 people were buried alive. Provincial authorities reported that 23 bodies had been recovered from the rubble as of 2:30 p.m. yesterday.
Meanwhile, the National Power Corp. (Napocor) said it was working double time to restore power supply in Bicol which has been suffering a blackout since Thursday.
Guillermo Redoblado, manager of Napocor's power transmission group for the Southern Luzon grid, said they have fielded available crewmen and emergency barangay linemen to speed up the rehabilitation and repair of fallen lines.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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