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COLD SPELL KILLS 6 IN BAGUIO; STRONG EARTHQUAKE DETECTED IN BATAN  ISLAND

BAGUIO CITY
, January 7, 2003 (STAR) 
By Artemio Dumlao  — A Siberian chill and the cold front have claimed six lives in the highlands.

Two elderly persons and four children died after temperatures dropped in Baguio City, triggering their asthma and causing pneumonia, health officials here said.

Baguio City Health Department chief Dr. Florence Reyes attributed the deaths to the drop in temperature caused by the cold front and Siberian winds.

The cold spell is lifting. From 10.2 degrees Celsius on Jan. 3, the lowest since the Yuletide chill, temperatures rose steadily to 10.8 degrees last Saturday, 11.2 degrees on Sunday and 11.4 degrees yesterday.

Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) official Wilson Lucando confirmed that the low temperatures were caused by the northeast monsoon winds carrying melting snow from Siberia.

Despite this rise in temperatures, PAGASA predicts colder times may yet still come next month. The lowest recorded temperature last year in Baguio was 8.4 degrees Celsius in January.

The lowest temperature ever recorded in the summer capital was 6.3 degrees Celsius in January 1961.

Meanwhile, residents along the famous Mountain Trail near Halsema Highway in Benguet are experiencing temperatures at least two degrees lower than the chill in Baguio.

These low temperatures are sending fear throughout the vast vegetable plantations in the country’s Salad Capital that frost may cause crop damage.

During these months last year, farmers in Benguet lost millions of pesos woerth of harvestable and budding vegetables due to the heavy frost that damaged the crops.

***Strong earthquake detected off Philippine islands 01/07 9:10:18 AM

HONG KONG (AFP) - An "intense" earthquake measuring 5.6 on the Richter scale was recorded off islands in the northern Philippines late on Monday, the Hong Kong Observatory reported.

The epicentre of the quake, which struck at 10:59 pm (1459 GMT), was estimated to be about 70 kilometres (44 miles) south-west of Basco in the Batan Islands.


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