Archive for Monday, December 22, 2003


December 22, 2003



Gasoline prices remain stable

In a year of unpredictable shifts, retail gasoline prices ended with two weeks of stability. But that isn't expected to last into the new year, an industry analyst said Sunday.

The average price Friday for a gallon of self-serve gasoline nationwide, including all grades and taxes, was about $1.51, according to the Lundberg Survey of 8,000 stations. That was down 0.08 of a cent since Dec. 5, but 6.51 cents higher than the average on Dec. 20, 2002.

"We're back down to approximately where we were in January," analyst Trilby Lundberg said in Camarillo.

For 2003 overall, retail gasoline prices averaged about $1.61, up 21.6 cents from the average price last year.

San Francisco

Thousands remain in dark

Thousands of customers remained without power Sunday after a massive blackout that disrupted traffic, shut down transit stations and, at its height, left a third of the city without electricity on one of the busiest days of the holiday season.

The power outage started just before 6 p.m. Saturday when a fire erupted at a major Pacific Gas & Electric Co. substation that feeds smaller neighborhood substations. The cause of the fire and outage remained under investigation, PG&E; officials said.

"There's no indication that it was vandalism or sabotage. As far as the exact cause, we just don't know yet," utility spokesman Jonathan Franks said.

At the height of the blackout about 120,000 customers lost power, including parts of Mission, North Beach, Chinatown and downtown San Francisco.

Only about 11,000 customers, most of them downtown, remained without power Sunday night.

"It has taken a little bit longer," Franks said. "We've had to do some extensive cleaning, a little bit more than we thought."


Landslides, floods kill scores

Entire families were buried alive in the mudslides that have killed at least 89 people in the eastern Philippines, rescuers said Sunday as they searched for more than 125 people still missing.

Of those killed, at least 71 were in the hard-hit central province of Southern Leyte, according to the National Disaster Coordination Center. The death toll seemed likely to rise, as regional officials reported more bodies than in the government's official count.

Some blamed years of illegal logging for the landslides, triggered by six days of pounding rains and winds in six provinces near the Pacific Ocean late Friday to early Saturday.

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