Typhoon Nona bars vessels from sailing: Thousands stuck

(The Freeman) - December 14, 2015 - 9:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Thousands of passengers could not leave Cebu’s ports yesterday morning after the Philippine Coast Guard canceled all trips to various parts of the Visayas, especially those going to Samar and Leyte.

They include passengers heading to Bantayan and Camotes islands who could not leave the San Remigio and Danao City ports after typhoon Nona (international name “Melor”) pummeled the Visayas.

It was near Camotes where a pumpboat capsized last October.

As of yesterday afternoon, 12 areas were already under storm signal No. 3, with the state weather bureau advising the public to brace for stormy weather and rough seas.

In particular, Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza already banned travel to Olango Island, including trips by tourist boats scheduled for island hopping. PCG likewise barred fast-crafts or small vessels going to Bohol from leaving.

But in its 2:30 p.m. update yesterday, the PCG  said the number of stranded passengers who could not leave Pier 1; Pier 3; and the ports of Bantayan; Pilar, Camotes; Poro, Camotes; Carmen; Danao City; Polambato, Bogo City; Hagnaya, San Remigio; Tabuelan; and Toledo City due to rough sea conditions has gone down to just 513.

PCG Station Cebu Commander Butch Bibat said the number dropped because many passengers opted to go home or look for a place to stay in Cebu after getting a refund. Of the stranded passengers, 293 were bound for Metro Manila.

Meanwhile, three flights from and going to Mactan-Cebu International Airport were also cancelled yesterday due to the typhoon.

A total of 49 vessels and motor bancas were likewise not allowed to sail, including 16 rolling cargo ships heading for Manila, Eastern Visayas, and Western Visayas.

The affected vessels were MV St. Jhudiel, MV Lite Ferry, MV Pilipinas Dumaguete, MV Pilipinas Iloilo, MV Ocean Jet 88, MV Mika Mari V, MV Mika Mari VI, MV Super Shuttle 10, MV Island Express 5, MV Super Shuttle 19, MV Super Shuttle 23, MV Melrivic 7, MV Beautiful Star, MV ST. Leo The Great, MV Gloria One, MV Rosalia 3, MV Graceful Star, MV Joyful Star, MV Theresian Star, MV Lady of Love, MV Fiji 11, MV Fastcraft 2, and MV Water Taxi.

Affected Land Craft Transport (LCT) vessels, on the other hand, were the LCT 988, LCT Island Venture, LCT Island II, LCT Tabuelan, LCT Cadiz, while affected motor bancas were MBCA Junmar 3, MBCA Junmar 2, MBCA Junmar 1, MBCA Super SM, and MBCA Christopher.

The said vessels were supposedly bound for Ormoc City; Palompon, Leyte; Maasin City; Cadiz City, Negros Oriental; Danao City; Consuelo, Camotes; Villaba, Leyte; Sta. Fe, Bantayan Island; Cawayan, Masbate; Escalante City, Negros Occidental; Manila; Hilongos, Leyte; Bato, Leyte; San Carlos City, Negros Occidental.

Commodore Enrico Efren Evangelista, PCG Central Visayas commander, said all vessels going to areas where typhoon warning signals were raised were not allowed to sail.

He said PCG has advised all its units to ensure the strict implementation of its guidelines on movement of vessels during heavy weather.

Evangelista said they would lift the restriction depending on how the weather fares today.

No classes

Some schools in northern Cebu have suspended their classes yesterday due to typhoon Nona.

As of 5 p.m., the Provincial Information Office reported the suspension of classes in all public schools in Bogo City, pre-elementary to high school in Medellin as well as the town’s Cebu Normal University campus, all public schools in San Remigio, and all levels in Tabogon, Daanbantayan and Poro.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) has been coordinating with its local counterparts for updates, requesting them to be in full alert and continue monitoring.

PDRRMO chief Baltazar Tribunalo warned those living in low lying areas and along rivers to be cautious against possible landslides and flashfloods.

“Kato po’ng mga molabang sa creeks, pabantayan nato labi na sa flashfloods,” he told reporters. -

Signal No. 1 was hoisted by state weather bureau PAGASA yesterday morning over northern Cebu, including Bantayan and Camotes islands.

Yesterday afternoon, Signal No. 3 was already in effect in Sorsogon; Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands; Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Catanduanes, Southern Quezon, Marinduque, Romblon, and northern Samar.

Batangas,  Rizal, Laguna, Cavite, Quezon including Polillo Island, Oriental Mindoro. Occidental Mindoro including Lubang Island, eastern Samar, Samar, and Biliran, on the other hand, were placed under storm signal No. 2, while Metro Manila, Bulacan, Bataan, Pampanga, southern Zambales, southern Aurora, Coron, Leyte, Aklan, Capiz, northern Antique, northern Negros Occidental, and northern Iloilo were likewise placed under storm signal No. 1 and were predicted to experience winds up to 30 to 60 kilometers per hour.

PAGASA advised the public to take precautionary measures against heavy rains, strong winds, lightning and possible flashfloods.

Chief Superintendent Manuel Gaerlan, Police Regional Office-7 director, said he already directed all chiefs of police, especially those in the northern part of Cebu and the islands of Camotes and Bantayan, to implement precautionary measures in their areas of responsibility.

He specifically told his men to advise all civilians, fishermen and residents in low-lying areas to adopt precautions.

“Signal No. 1 lang naman. But we don’t want to take it lightly especially yung watercrafts na nagko-cross sa Bantayan and Camotes Islands,” he said.

Gaerlan said they also coordinated with the PCG to help it monitor vessels that would force a sea crossing despite the warnings.

“We will get in touch with the PCG so that we can jointly address the preparations for the incoming typhoon,” he said.

“I hope it will not be as strong as other previous strong typhoons,” he added.

At the Capitol, the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office assured that it is ready to act, having learned its lesson from the massive destruction caused by super typhoon Yolanda in northern Cebu, which is just under storm signal No. 1 as of yesterday.

“After Yolanda, makaingon na gyud ko nga ang north makabarog na gyud sila.  Ang mga tawo bisan mga bata kahibawo na sila kon unsay preparedness, maghisgot ta sa tagsa-tagsa ka pamilya, na-educate na gyud sila. Kun adto ta sa executive level, na-educate na gyud sila, ang mga kapitan na-educate na gyud sila.  They learned more about disaster preparedness,” said Julius Regner, PDRRMO information officer.

“Sa pagkakaron ato na gi-implement ang atong gikinahanglan just to capacitate the whole province….  Ang pagpangandam sa tanan mao man gyud nay pinakaimportante,” he said, adding that they are maximizing the capacity of the local government units in responding to threats like typhoon Nona.

In particular, the PDRRMO told the LGUs not to be complacent even when the weather is warm.

“Bisan kun init, di gihapon ta mokompiyansa,” Regner told The FREEMAN.

Caution also prompted Cebu Pacific Air to cancel its 8:30 a.m. 5J 6895 flight from Cebu to Surigao, 10:30 a.m. 5J 6571 flight from Cebu to Tacloban, and 12:30 p.m. 5J 6572 flight from Tacloban to Cebu.

“We will be working hand in hand with the airlines for the safety of the passengers. Options of rebooking their flight or getting a refund will be given by the airlines,” said GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation corporate communications junior manager Malou Mozo.

At 5 p.m. yesterday, PAGASA said typhoon Nona was already at the vicinity of Bulusan, Sorsogon with maximum sustained winds of 150 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 185 kph. Nona is forecast to move west at 17 kph.

Because of this, stormy weather will be experienced over Bicol region, CALABARZON, Samar provinces, Mindoro provinces, Marinduque, Romblon and the island of Lubang and Biliran with rough to very rough seas. Rains with gusty winds are expected over Metro Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Southern Zambales, Bataan, Coron, Aklan, Capiz, northern Antique, northern Iloilo, northern Negros Occidental, Leyte, northern Cebu including Camotes and Bantayan islands.

Cloudy skies with light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms will be experienced over the rest of Visayas and Mindanao.

PAGASA said moderate to strong winds blowing from the northeast to north will prevail over Luzon, Visayas and eastern Mindanao. Coastal waters along these areas will be moderate to rough. — with Ma. Fatima R. Secuya, Michael Vencynth H. Braga, Christell Fatima M. Tudtud, Saison Dampios Jr., USJ-R MassComm Intern/RHM

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