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Typhoon Utor Hits Taiwan, Philippines

July 05, 2001|From Times Wire Services

TAIPEI, Taiwan — Typhoon Utor lashed southern Taiwan early today, hours after it battered the northern Philippines with winds up to 105 mph and heavy rains that reportedly left 23 people dead.

As Utor swept across the southern tip of Taiwan, authorities shut down several highways because of flash flooding and landslides. One person was killed, a fishing boat carrying seven crew members was missing, and 46 hikers in mountainous areas were stranded, officials said.

However, the brunt of the storm missed the island as it moved out to sea and toward China. Taiwan's Central Weather Bureau said Utor was on track to be near Hong Kong late today. Utor means "squall" in one of the languages spoken in the Marshall Islands.

In the Philippines, authorities on Wednesday placed a wide area of Luzon island, including Manila, the capital, under a storm alert as Utor pummeled the area with winds gusting up to 105 mph. Low-lying areas were inundated, and a tornado was reportedly sighted in San Jose, 110 miles north of Manila.

Mudslides triggered by the typhoon killed at least 23 people in the northern Philippines and another 14 were missing. At least 25,000 people were forced out of their homes, the northern Regional Disaster Management Center said.

The Philippine military said at least six towns and cities suffered heavy flooding.

Eleven evacuation centers in the mountain resort city of Baguio housed 1,213 people this morning. Mayor Bernardo Vergara said he would declare the city a "calamity area," allowing Baguio to receive national emergency funds.

Telephone service was restored to Baguio today but electricity remained cut and gasoline supplies were running low, Vergara said.

The Bustus dam, about 30 miles north of Manila, began overflowing Wednesday, and two dams in Benguet province--Ambuklao and Binga--were nearing capacity.

Officials were considering releasing some of the water, which would cause flooding in nearby low-lying areas.

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