Over 4,000-T passengers stranded because of ‘Ofel’

Posted on October 25, 2012

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Manila—Over 4,000 passengers bound for Eastern Visayas and Northern Mindanao were stranded at several ports yesterday after the Coast Guard grounded their vessels due to Tropical Storm “Ofel,” the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said.

In its latest advisory issued yesterday noon, the NDRRMC said 1,346 passengers were stranded at the Coast Guard Pier 2 in Manila.

Other ports that had grounded vessels and stranded passengers were in Southern Leyte, Catbalogan, Cebu, Tagbilaran, Dumaguete, Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, and Butuan.

A total of 173 rolling cargoes, 57 vessels, and 28 motor bancas were grounded by the Coast Guard, the advisory said.

The Coast Guard in Surigao City also canceled trips of passenger boats and ships and other sea craft plying the route from Surigao City to Dinagat Islands, Siargao Islands, and Southern Leyte.

Ofel made landfall in Siargao at noon Wednesday, the state weather bureau said.

Surigao City officials suspended classes and warned residents in riverbanks and flood-prone areas to take precautionary measures.

Mayor Ernesto Matugas said he was discussing with city managers the possibility of a budget realignment to fund the city’s Quick Action Response Team (QART) and other departments tasked with responding to natural disasters.

Matugas called off classes at the elementary and high school levels, leaving it for administrators to decide whether to suspend classes at the college level.

He did not rule out the possibility of forced evacuation of people living in high-risk areas.

The entire Surigao del Norte province has been placed under storm Signal No. 2, and Acting Gov. Carlos Egay Jr. ordered 24-hour weather monitoring.

In Lubang Island, Mindoro about five fishermen were rescued by a US ship early yesterday.

The stranded fishermen, whose boat broke down, were rescued and brought to Manila by the USS MCCampbell (DGG 85), an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.

The Coast Guard described the USS Campbell as one of the escort ships of USS George Washingtom Carrier Strike Group, due for a port call at the Manila Bay.

It is currently conducting a routine western Pacific patrol in support of security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region.

Commander Armand Balilo, PCG spokesperson, identified the fishermen as Richard Ralia, 27; Noel Aque, 22; Jimmy Aque, 34; Reynato Leorin, 33; and Erick Abaño, 26, all residents of Barangay Cawak, Subic, Zambales.

Balilo said the fishermen were discovered by one of the helicopter pilots embarked on the USS McCampbell during the routine night-time flight operations at about midnight.

Ralia, one of the fishermen, said that they were spotted by US pilots standing on the roof of their boats holding flares.

The fishermen were turned over to the Philippine Coast Guard./ Inquirer

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