LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: Close to 3,000 passengers were stranded in various seaports of Bicol after the Philippine Coast Guard grounded seacraft and motorized bancas as tropical depression Carina hit the region on Saturday.
Bernardo Rafaelito Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) director and Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council chairman in Bicol, told The Manila Times that more than 2,873 passengers were stuck in major seaports across the region.
Aside from stranded passengers, 225 rolling cargo boats, 40 sea vessels and 17 motorized bancas were ordered grounded by the Philippine Coast Guard after the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur were placed under Public Storm Signal No. 1.
Alejandro reactivated the OCD’s Operations Center and was placed under blue alert status meaning disaster agencies and assets were on standby for 24 hours.
“We’re directing the six Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils to be ready at all times and closely monitor the situation and immediately coordinate with our office,” he said.
The big number of stranded passengers was noted in Matnog port in Sorsogon.
The passengers are bound for the Visayas region as well as the island provinces of Masbate and Catanduanes.
Disaster monitoring teams also reported that a large number of buses bound for Catanduanes from Manila were stranded at a port in Tabaco town here.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) hoisted storm signal number one in the provinces of Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Sur and Sorsogon on Friday.
Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara convened the members of disaster responders and government agencies on Friday morning to be ready with contingency measures.
Bichara enforced the “no sailing policy” on all types of seacraft to avoid possible untoward incident as well as ensure the safety of the people here.
He directed all mayors, including village chiefs, across the province to strictly enforce such policy.
Bichara said the “no sailing policy” should be automatically put into effect upon the raising of typhoon signal number one by Pagasa for disaster avoidance.
Six other provinces in the country were placed under Public Storm Signal No. 1 on Saturday even as tropical depression Carina maintained its strength and moved in a north-northwest direction.
Pagasa identified the provinces as Cagayan, Isabela, northern part of Aurora, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Samar.
The 10 provinces have been “alerted against moderate to heavy rains, which may trigger flash floods and landslides,” it said.
Pagasa added that “the rest of Visayas and the provinces of Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate are alerted against moderate to heavy rains which may trigger flash floods and landslides.”
Carina was last recorded at 175 kilometers east-northeast of Catarman, Northern Samar.
It had maximum sustained winds of up to 55 kilometers per hour while winds of 30-60 kph can be expected in 36 hours.
The tropical depression is forecast to move north-northwest at 15 kph.
Pagasa said the estimated rainfall is from moderate to heavy within the 300 kilometer diameter of Carina.
It alerted fisherfolk against moderate to rough seas over the eastern seaboards of Luzon and Visayas.
WITH FRANCIS EARL CUETO