‘Usman’ grounds 851 passengers in WV

Sea travel in selected parts of Western Visayas were suspended Thursday morning after northern Iloilo, Capiz, Aklan, and northern Negros were placed under Storm Signal No. 1 due to Tropical Depression “Usman.”

Lt. Commander Ramil Palabrica, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard-Western Visayas, (PCG-6), in an interview, said the cancellation of trips left 851 passengers stranded.

As of 4 p.m., 768 passengers were stranded in Lapuz Wharf in this city and Dumangas Port in Dumangas, Iloilo after the trips of fast craft vessels plying between Iloilo City and Bacolod City and roll-on roll-off vessels plying between Dumangas and Bacolod City were canceled.

There are also 48 passengers stranded at the Caticlan Jetty Port in Aklan and 35 in Culasi Port in Roxas City.

Palabrica said they have already reported the information to the 24/7 operation center of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council 6 (RDRRMC-6).

“We advised them (stranded passengers) that if possible, they could stay with their relatives wherever they are stranded,” he said.

Meanwhile, Palabrica said that motor banca trips from Iloilo City to Guimaras and vice versa, and trips from Caticlan Port to Boracay Island continue with their operations.

Palabrica advised the public to check weather advisories before they travel as trips may get suspended.

He noted that the suspension of trips will not be lifted while the region and their points of destination remain under storm warning signal and if the weather is still not manageable and unsafe for sea travel.

As of 5 p.m., the RDRRMC-6 already raised the “blue alert” status in the entire region due to Usman.

Jose Roberto Nuñez, Regional Director of the Office of Civil Defense 6, said that they are now 100 percent prepared and are continuously monitoring their areas of responsibility here, especially those prone to landslides.

Nuñez said that Usman is expected to pass by Panay island around 2:00 a.m. Friday and will bring rains.

Meantime, the report regarding the stranded passengers already reached the RDRRMC-6, Nuñez confirmed.

“Our concerned agencies are already attending to their needs especially their food,” he said.

Various member agencies of the RDRRMC-6 gathered in a pre-disaster risk assessment (PDRA) Thursday morning to lay down plans for preparedness, prevention, and mitigation.

Nuñez further advised the public to be cautious and be alert to ensure their safety.PNA