Eight people died and about 50,000 others fled their homes when steaming mud flows thundered down from the volcanic Mt. Pinatubo and buried hundreds of houses in their path, Philippine officials said yesterday.
The mud flows struck the northern Philippine region, already reeling from two weeks of heavy flooding that has severely affected more than 800,000 people, the Social Welfare Department said.
The mud flows and the floods followed warnings from scientists that Mt. Pinatubo was gearing for another major eruption.
Police said they were using helicopters, scuba divers in rubber boats, military trucks, outrigger canoes, and school buses to rescue families trapped in low-lying villages since Saturday by floods and mud flows up to nine feet high.
The eight deaths brought to 17 the number of people killed in mud flows and floods, begun recently by monsoon rains.
The mud flows, consisting of volcanic debris from Mt. Pinatubo's slopes, were unleashed by the rains of Tropical Storm Polly.
As Polly moved to Taiwan, Typhoon Omar is headed toward the Philippines, threatening to bring more flooding to areas around Mt. Pinatubo.