'BABS' DEATH TOLL 145 AND CLIMBING, DESTRUCTION MASSIVE
Manila, Oct. 24, 1998 - The death toll from super-typhoon "Loleng" (international code name Babs) soared to 145 this morning, with scores still missing and feared dead after the storm rampaged across Eastern Visayas, Bicol, Southern Tagalog provinces and Central Luzon, causing floods and landslides and blowing away rooftops from thousands of homes.
Entire provinces remain isolated and would only be reached by national government aid workers using helicopters today. The casualty toll is expected to climb when reports come in today and tomorrow from provinces and villages with the restoration of communication facilities which had been completely cut off by the typhoon.
Trees and electric posts were also uprooted, electricity supply was interrupted, while communication lines were cut off in numerous areas along the typhoon's path.
Data from Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) and disaster relief workers reporting from typhoon-ravaged towns indicate that up to half a million people were displaced by Loleng, ninth storm to hit the country this year.
A gold mining tunnel in Aroroy town in Masbate caved in on 25 workers, but 14 of them were rescued later. At least 25 people were reported trapped by rampaging floodwater in Juban town in Sorsogon. Reports said very strong currents prevented Army rescuers from reaching them.
Three houses along the Asin Road in Baguio City slid down a mountain slope in Baguio City as continuous rains spawned by the typhoon loosened the soil. Four other homes were on the verge of collapse at Purok 7 in San Luis Village.
Authorities said the Marcos Highway and Naguilian Road leading to Baguio City remained open while Kennon Road was closed at the Klondykes portion due to swelling of the Bued River.
Bicol appeared to have suffered the brunt of typhoon Loleng's wrath, prompting provincial officials to air appeals for assistance, notably for relief goods and medicines.
Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said rescue and relief workers were prevented from reaching their intended beneficiaries by the breakdown of transportation systems as several roads were rendered impassable by floods and downed bridges, while communication lines were snapped.
Tens of thousands of passengers were stranded as ports in the affected areas were closed and ships were not allowed to sail.
In Matnog, Sorsogon alone, about 10,000 people jammed the ferry terminal. Authorities prevented more vehicles from entering the port to avoid further congestion in the facility. The stalled vehicles formed a one-kilometer-long queue along the highway.
The Bicol RDCC said 13,581 families consisting of about 57,700 people were moved to 320 evacuation centers in the region.
The PDCC placed the damage to crops and infrastructure at P1.3 billion in the Bicol region alone
In La Union, the towns of Suyo and Cervantes remained isolated due to failure to deploy heavy equipment to clear the road leading to the two municipalities which was blocked by a landslide caused by typhoon "Iliang."
Meralco said except for some areas in Quezon, Cavite, Laguna and Bulacan provinces, as well as Marikina City which experienced prolonged brownouts, the entire franchise grid was spared by the typhoon.
Meralco said as of 12 noon yesterday, 38 of the firm's 616 distribution and transmission circuits were still out. These circuits were servicing Pulilan, Baliwag, San Rafael, and Bustos towns in Bulacan; Tiaong, Candelaria, Mauban, Lucena City and Pagbilao in Quezon; Trece Martires, Silang and Tagaytay City in Cavite; Antipolo City, Teresa, Cainta and Taytay in Rizal; and portions of the cities of Muntinlupa, Pasig and Marikina in Metro Manila.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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