By ERWIN MASCARIÑAS
SURIGAO City – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) yesterday said at least two thousand people or about 363 families from the different parts of Caraga evacuated yesterday ahead of the landfall of tropical depression Samuel. Officials expected more to flee their homes.
The evacuees were sheltered in different evacuation centers in the three provinces of Caraga as of noon yesterday, said Liza Mazo, regional director of OCD and head of the region’s disaster risk reduction management council.
Mazo said the figures were expected to rise as evacuation is ongoing, at presstime, in Dinagat Island and other areas of Surigao del Norte, including Surigao City.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council counted some 255 evacuees or 82 displaced families in Dinagat Island, some 635 people or about 148 families in Surigao del Norte, and about 133 families or 722 people in Surigao del Sur.
At the port of Surigao City, authorities stopped travel to the islands of Siargao and Dinagat as early as Monday afternoon. At the terminal of Lipata in Surigao City, about 25 passengers are stranded at presstime.
Outside the Lipata port, over 400 Leyte-bound passengers are stranded at presstime. There are 90 trucks, 10 buses and other vehicles waiting in queue, covering about two kilometers of the road.
The Coast Guard however counted more than five thousand passengers stranded across Mindanao, Visayas and Bicol since yesterday morning.
In an latest advisory, the Coast Guard said a total of 5,656 passengers, 728 rolling cargoes, 159 vessels and 47 motorbancas were stranded in Bicol, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas, Southern Visayas and northern Mindanao regions as of 10 am.
Based on the PCG’s guidelines, no vessel of any type or tonnage shall be allowed to sail except to take shelter, as the situation may warrant, whenever storm Signal No. 1 or higher, is hoisted within its point of origin, the intended route and port of destination.
All vessels already underway are to seek shelter when any storm signal is hoisted in its immediate vicinity, along its route, and point of destination.
“Samuel” was expected to make landfall over the Samar-Leyte-Dinagat area last night, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration that warned of moderate to heavy rains that may trigger flooding and landslides. (with reports from PNA)