2,500 stranded at Sorsogon port due to lack of RoRo vessels

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LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Close to 2,500 passengers and more than a hundred vehicles were marooned since Monday evening at the Matnog port in Sorsogon while another four-kilometer queue of vehicles were waiting to get to the port amid a shortage of roll-on-roll-off vessels to bring them across to the port of Allen in Samar.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD)-Bicol regional director Rafael Bernardo Alejandro, quoting a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) report, said that as of noon Tuesday, 2,500 passengers, 182 trucks, 20 cars, and 57 buses were at the Matnog port waiting for their cue to board available RoRo vessels bound for the Allen port.

Alejandro, in a text message, said these vehicles were in a long queue occupying about four kilometers of the Maharlika Highway leading to the port in Matnog.

Alejandro told the Inquirer that the lack of available RoRo vessels has led to the stranding of thousands of passengers.

He said the PCG has asked the various shipping lines operating at the port to send additional vessels to ferry passengers, trucks, buses and cars bound for Samar.

There are four shipping companies each operating a RoRo vessel plying the Matnog-Allen route on a daily basis, according to Alejandro.

In Camarines Sur, 177 passengers have been stranded in seaports in Camarines Sur over the last 24 hours as moderate to heavy rains spawned by the northeast monsoon continued to pour without let-up across Bicol since Friday last week.

The passengers were stranded since Tuesday after small sea vessels were forbidden from leaving the province’s ports after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Adminsitration (PAGASA) issued gale warnings for Bicol and the Visayas, according the latest report released by the Philippine Coast Guard in Camarines Sur.

Stranded were 127 passengers at the Pasacao port and 57 at the Tamban port in Tinambac town, said the PCG-Camarines Sur report released Tuesday by apprentice seaman Hernanie Alviola.

PAGASA, in its bulletin as of 5 a.m., said strong to gale force winds associated with the surge of northeast monsoon remain the threat for sea vessels in the seaboards of Northern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central Luzon, the seaboards of Southern Luzon and the eastern seaboard of Visayas.

Fishing boats and other small seacraft were advised not to venture out into the sea while larger sea vessels were alerted against big waves by both PAGASA and PCG.

In Albay, Gov. Joey Salceda for the second day suspended classes in the pre-kinder and kindergarten levels in the entire province as a precautionary measure in view of heightened risks to public health, safety and welfare due to the continuous rains since Friday last week.

The Albay PDRRMC, in a bulletin posted on its Facebook page, maintained its call to all local disaster councils to be on alert for possible flooding, lahar and mud flows and landslide.

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