E. Visayas braces for ‘Usman’ impact | Inquirer News

E. Visayas braces for ‘Usman’ impact

Thousands stranded as interisland ferry services stopped
/ 05:02 AM December 28, 2018

Passengers bound for Leyte province are left stranded at Cebu City’s Pier 1 after the Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel on Thursday as Tropical Depression “Usman” moves toward the Visayas. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

TRIPS SUSPENDED Passengers bound for Leyte province are left stranded at Cebu City’s Pier 1 after the Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel on Thursday as Tropical Depression “Usman” moves toward the Visayas. JUNJIE MENDOZA/CEBU DAILY NEWS

TACLOBAN CITY—Local governments across Eastern Visayas were placed on alert as Tropical Depression “Usman” was forecast to hit the region on Friday.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) on Thursday said Usman continued to gather strength as it moved closer to Eastern Visayas.


In a press briefing, weather specialist Raymund Ordinario said Usman might intensify into a tropical storm before it makes landfall over Eastern Samar on Friday afternoon.


As of 4 p.m. Thursday, Usman was spotted 410 kilometers east of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, with maximum winds of 55 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 65 kph. It is moving westward at 15 kph.

The provinces of Romblon, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon and Masbate, including Ticao and Burias islands, were placed under Storm Signal No. 1.

In the Visayas, stormy weather will also prevail over Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu, including Camotes Islands, Aklan, Capiz, Northern Iloilo and Northern Negros Occidental. Usman will also affect Dinagat Islands in Mindanao.

Usman may exit the Philippine area of responsibility between Sunday night and Monday morning, according to Pagasa.

Travel suspension

More than 9,600 passengers were left stranded in various ports on Thursday as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended sea trips in at least 12 provinces.


In Luzon, trips to and from Sorsogon and Masbate provinces, including Ticao Island, were suspended. In the Visayas, the PCG also stopped trips to and from Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, northern Cebu and Camotes Islands. In Mindanao, ferry services to and from Dinagat Islands and Surigao City were suspended.

The order left 9,625 passengers stranded in Cebu, Bohol, Romblon, Negros Occidental, Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, Albay, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Samar, Western Samar and Dinagat Islands, as of Thursday noon.

The PCG said the suspension order in the affected areas would be lifted once weather and sea conditions improved.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board on Thursday suspended the operations of buses using roll-on, roll-off (Ro-Ro) vessels in areas expected to be hit by Usman.

In the Visayas, 2,172 passengers, most of them bound for mainland Luzon and Mindanao, had been stranded in Ormoc City since Thursday morning when the PCG stopped all interisland vessels from leaving port after Storm Signal No. 1 was raised in the region, said Lt. Paterno Belarmino Jr., PCG station chief for the Samar provinces.

Close to 950 passengers were also stranded and 87 cargo vessels were stopped from leaving the ports of San Ricardo and Liloan, the PCG office in Eastern Visayas said.

Coastal monitoring

In Tacloban, Mayor Cristina Romualdez directed the city disaster risk reduction management office to closely monitor the situation and to evacuate residents, especially those living in coastal areas.

Five years ago, the city was devastated by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) that killed more than 2,200 people, mostly in coastal villages.

Local governments in Eastern Samar, where Usman was forecast to make landfall on Friday, were also placed on alert. In the provincial capital of Borongan, Mayor Ma. Fe Abunda directed the city’s disaster response team to visit families living in coastal areas and to ask them to evacuate once the situation worsened.

Abunda appealed to families living in areas prone to landslide or flooding to evacuate. “I just hope that they will heed our appeal to them for their own safety,” she said.

Evacuation alert

In Biliran, Naval Mayor Gerard Espina asked village officials to prepare the town’s gymnasium and Caray-Caray Central School for evacuees.

In December last year, 21 people were killed, and houses and government buildings were heavily damaged when Typhoon “Urduja” struck.

In Northern Samar, local governments were alerted on the possible landfall of Usman, according to Rei Josiah Echano, head of the provincial disaster risk reduction management office.

In Ormoc, the city government activated its disaster response team to prepare residents for possible evacuation.

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Ciriaco Tolibao Jr., city disaster risk reduction management officer, said 22 of 110 villages in Ormoc were prone to flooding while six upland villages were prone to landslides. —REPORTS FROM MELVIN GASCON, JOEY GABIETA, ROBERT DEJON, REY ANTHONY OSTRIA, JOVIC YEE AND KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING

TAGS: Local news, Regions, Usman, Weather

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