‘Ofel’ leaves 200 stranded-A A +A
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
AT LEAST 16 vessels, including motorized bancas, were not allowed to sail from Cebu yesterday because of rough waves caused by the approaching tropical depression Ofel.
Nearly 200 passengers were stranded in Cebu’s ports, while waiting for the suspension of their trips to be lifted. Tropical depression Ofel may hit northern Cebu tonight or Thursday morning, the weather bureau Pag-asa said in an advisory.
Cebu Coast Guard Commander Rolando Punzalan said the cancellation of trips may last a few days and more vessels may not be allowed to sail, depending on the sea’s conditions.
“Some trips that were suspended were not really (expected to be) hit by the tropical depression, but after conducting the local sea condition assessment, we decided to suspend the trips,” explained Punzalan in a phone interview.
The routes that were suspended were mostly bound for Ormoc City, Leyte, Iloilo and Negros Oriental. The vessels and fast craft bound for these areas are Lite Ferries, Weesam and 2Go.
Motor bancas were also not given clearance to sail.
“We decided not to grant clearances for the safety of all,” said Punzalan. He advised passengers not to go to the ports as they may get stranded, and to wait for further advisories.
As of 10 last night, Ofel was 170 kilometers northeast of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur and packed maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center. She’s a slow mover, though, covering only 15 kilometers per hour.
The weather bureau Pag-asa expects Ofel to hover over Southern Leyte tonight and approach San Jose, Occidental Mindoro Thursday night.
In the Visayas, storm signal number one was raised over the provinces of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Western and Eastern Samar, Bohol and Camotes Island.
Other areas in Mindanao—Surigao Provinces, Dinagat Island, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental and the Agusan Provinces—were also expected to feel the tropical depression’s gusts.
“We will have to check the weather bulletin from time to time. Once the local sea condition will be cleared, then we will lift the suspension of trips,” said Punzalan in Cebu.
The eastern seaboard of Southern Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao are affected, and Ofel is also expected to dump five to 20 millimeters per hour of rain within 400 kilometers from the eye of the storm.
Expect the Visayas and Mindanao to be cloudy with moderate to heavy rain and thunderstorms that may trigger flash floods and landslides, Pag-asa said on its website.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 24, 2012.