MANILA, Philippines — Tropical depression “Quinta” caused widespread travel disruption Wednesday as major ports were shut down and domestic flights and bus travel to the Visayas and Mindanao were cancelled.
Although “Quinta” has been downgraded from a tropical storm to a tropical depression after making at least five landfalls in the Visayas, it whipped up rough seas and reduced visibility to nearly zero.
Domestic flights of Cebu Pacific, Zest Air and Air Philippines to Caticlan, Virac, Legazpi City and vice versa were grounded Wednesday due to the grim weather.
Nearly 5,750 passengers and 82 interisland vessels were stranded at Manila’s North Harbor and 11 other major ports in Bicol, the Visayas and northern Mindanao due to “Quinta.”
In a report, the Philippine Coast Guard said on Wednesday that at least 2,550 passengers were stranded in Manila; 939 in Cebu City; 625 in Ozamis City; 454 in Maasin City, Southern Leyte; 300 in Dumaguete City; 223 in Sorsogon; 200 in Cagayan de Oro City; 145 in Iloilo City; 111 in Tagbilaran City; 82 in Catbalogan City, Samar; 75 in Butuan City; and 44 in Dapitan City.
Eight other passenger and cargo ships, as well as 23 motor bancas, have taken shelter in other ports in “Quinta”-affected areas, the PCG also said.
In Masbate, all ports in the province were shut down and the local Coast Guard said at least 32 passengers were stranded in three seaports.
As of 9 a.m., eight passengers were stranded in Masbate Port in Masbate City, the provincial capital. Six other passengers were stranded in Cataingan Port, some 70 kilometers south of the city.
In Burias Island, one of the three primary islands that compose Masbate province, 18 passengers were stranded in the seaport of San Pascual town, about 100 kilometers north of Masbate City.
The ports of Masbate and Cataingan serve passengers to and from the Bicol mainland, Manila, and Cebu.
In Leyte, the travel of over 500 people were disrupted since December 25 while around 400 persons were evacuated from various areas in Leyte due to tropical storm Quinta.
Records from the Coast Guard stations in Maasin City in Southern Leyte and in Catbalogan City, Samar, indicated that 572 passengers were stranded since Christmas Day at various terminals.
The stranded passengers and rolling cargoes were reported in the ports of Allen in Northern Samar (50 passengers, 15 cargo trucks and 13 buses), Bato in Leyte (130 passengers and 3 rolling cargoes), Liloan (316 passengers and 17 rolling cargoes) and Benit (76 passengers and 24 rolling cargoes) in Southern Leyte. There were at least eight grounded vessels in the said ports.
The stranded passengers were either bound for Cebu, Bohol or Lipata in Surigao del Norte.
Iloilo and Caticlan
Trips of sea vessels from the ports of Iloilo and Caticlan in Aklan were suspended Wednesday morning, leaving around 1,700 passengers stranded.
The Coast Guard station in Iloilo reported that 1,654 persons were stranded as of 10 a.m. after 20 vessels were not allowed to leave port.
Lt. Commander Dominador Senador, Coast Guard Iloilo station commander, said travel of fast craft vessels between Iloilo and Bacolod cities was suspended Wednesday after Panay and Guimaras islands were placed under storm signal no. 1.
Trips of motorboats plying between Iloilo and Guimaras continued but the number of passengers was limited to 75 percent of the maximum capacity of motorboats.
In Caticlan, Aklan, 48 passengers of roll-on, roll-off vessels (Roro) remained stranded as of Wednesday morning.
Lt. Commander Terence Alsosa, commander of the Coast Guard station in Malay in Aklan, said six Roro vessels and two fast craft boats temporarily took shelter at Looc Bay in Romblon, around 10 miles from Caticlan.
Motorboats plying between Caticlan and Boracay Island were allowed to sail as of 10 a.m. Wednesday, but were also limited to 75 percent of the maximum passengers allowed. Trips would only be until sunset but would be suspended if weather conditions worsened, Alsosa said.
Water sports and island-hopping activities in Boracay were called off and tourists swimming at sea were being closely monitored, he said.