A total of 9,625 ship passengers, 839 rolling cargoes, 76 vessels and 22 motorbancas were stranded in different ports nationwide due to Tropical Depression “Usman” as of 4 p.m. Thursday, 27 December 2018, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported.
In its advisory posted on social media, the PCG’s breakdown of the stranded passengers and vessels are as follows:
Central Visayas – 803 passengers, 61 rolling cargoes, 21 vessels and 7 motorbanca;
Southern Tagalog – 470 passengers, 34 rolling cargoes, 3 vessels and 1 motorbanca;
Bicol – 4,229 passengers, 173 rolling cargoes, 13 vessels and 7 motorbanca;
Eastern Visayas – 2,699 passengers, 237 rolling cargoes, 14 vessels and 5 motorbancas;
Northern Mindanao – 355 passengers;
Southern Visayas – 254 passengers, 243 rolling cargoes and 14 vessels; and
Western Visayas – 851 passengers, 91 rolling cargoes, 11 vessels and 2 motorbanca.
The PCG has ordered the suspension of trips of all types of vessels/watercrafts plying the routes to and from Sorsogon, Masbate and Ticao Island in Luzon; Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu and Camotes Island in Visayas; and Dinagat Island in Mindanao due to the effects of Usman effective Thursday, 27 December 2018. Trips will resume when the weather and sea condition in these areas improve.
The PCG Surigao has also suspended all sea travels from Surigao City in Surigao del Norte.
In Eastern Visayas, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Director Henry Anthony Torres said most of the stranded travelers are in the ports of San Isidro and Allen in Northern Samar bound for Luzon, Liloan; in Saint Bernard in Southern Leyte bound for Mindanao; and Ormoc City in Leyte going to Cebu.
“We don’t expect the number of stranded passengers will increase since bus companies are advised that their buses should stay in terminals and not proceed to roll-on roll-off ports,” said Torres, chair of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC).
The official asked passengers to change their travel plans and just stay home if their areas are still under storm warning signal.
Meanwhile, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board Chairman Martin Delgra has already issued a directive for bus operators to temporarily suspend bus operations with RoRo (roll on roll off) trips crossing areas placed under Signal Number 1.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has placed under Tropical Cyclone Signal No. 1 all the region’s six provinces – Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, and Southern Leyte.
Aside from impact to transportation, the RDRRMC is also concerned on the thousands of residents in vulnerable communities that may be affected by flooding and landslides.
“Our advice to local government units is to conduct pre-emptive evacuation for vulnerable communities as we expect heavy rains starting Thursday night. We have been coordinating with local disaster risk reduction and management offices to check their preparedness,” Torres said.
The RDRRMC convened on Wednesday and Thursday for the pre-disaster risk assessment and response cluster meetings.
The council asked local DRRMOs to activate emergency operations centers, advice fishermen not to venture out into the sea, ensure widest dissemination of timely weather advisories, and undertake other preparedness activities.
As of Thursday noon, “Usman” has slowed down as it moved towards Eastern Visayas. Its center was estimated at 450 kilometers east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte or 440 kilometers east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
It has maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 65 kph. It is expected to move west at 15 kph.