Monday, December 04, 2006

The End of All Things is Near, Be Ready

Supertyphoon Leaves at Least 388 Dead in Philippines (Update6)
By Ian C. Sayson and Francisco Alcuaz Jr.
Dec. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Supertyphoon Durian, which slammed into the Philippines yesterday, packing winds of 249 kilometers (155 miles) an hour, left at least 388 people dead in Albay province in Luzon, said an official who called for outside help.
``A lot of people have been hit,'' said Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippines Red Cross. ``We don't know exactly how many people are still missing.''
The typhoon damaged at least 1 billion pesos ($20 million) worth of infrastructure, TV station GMA Network Inc. reported on its Web site, citing public works department Regional Director Oscar Cristobal.
The storm, the ninth to make landfall this year in the Philippines, started mudslides on Mayon volcano near Legazpi city, the capital of Albay, after rains softened the debris accumulated from eruptions this year, officials said. Since 1991, floods and landslides triggered by typhoons have displaced about 1 million families and killed at least 10,000 people, according to the Web site of the Haribon Foundation, a Philippine environmental group.
The death toll was for areas around Mayon, said Gordon, who is also a senator. ``The work is long and arduous. Additional hands and relief goods are always welcome. We may need the help of the international community for this.''
Albay province officials ordered 200 body bags for the Mayon mudslide, Glenn Rabonza, administrator at the National Disaster Coordinating Council, said in a press briefing today in Manila.
Worst Catastrophe
The storm prompted the evacuation of 13,928 people in 16 towns and three cities in seven provinces in southeast Luzon, Rabonza said. Mudflows struck five villages in the town of Daraga near Mayon, he said.
``This is the worst catastrophe in our province's history,'' Fernando Gonzalez, Albay province's governor, said in a phone interview. ``We don't have the capacity to handle the devastation it caused.''
About 60 percent of Albay's 1.1 million population were affected by the typhoon, he said. At least 112 people were killed, 138 injured and 159 persons missing because of the mudflows alone, Gonzalez said.
``There was rampaging flood all over the province and houses were buried. It's very grim,'' he said. ``Bridges that were over 100 years old, dating back to the Spanish colonization, were destroyed.''
Stranded Passengers
One person died after being hit by roof metal and 14 people were injured in Camarines Sur, a province neighboring Albay, Rabonza said. At least 3,920 passengers are stranded in various ports in provinces south of Manila, he said.
Transmission lines were damaged in the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Quezon, Rabonza said. Around eight villages in Legazpi were flooded, he said.
Gonzalez said it was unclear how long it would take to restore power in Albay, which, along with other areas in the Bicol region and the Bondoc peninsula, doesn't have electricity.
``We don't know when electricity will be back,'' Gonzalez said. ``We just finished putting up the electricity poles three days ago from the previous typhoon and now they are down again.''
Durian, which is the name of a pungent-smelling tropical fruit, skirted to the south of the island of Catanduanes before hitting southeast Luzon island north of the city of Tabaco.
The storm crossed the southern Luzon peninsula before entering the Ragay Gulf, swept across the Bondoc peninsula into Tayabas Bay southeast of Manila from where it passed between the islands of Luzon and Mindoro and headed into the South China Sea.
Durian's center was 239 kilometers south-southwest of Manila at 2 a.m. today, according to the latest advisory on the Web site of the U.S. Navy Joint Typhoon Warning Center. The storm's winds slowed 166 kilometers per hour.
The storm is expected to weaken into a tropical depression as it approaches the southern Vietnam coast line around Dec. 4.