‘Amang’ spoils chance of Matnog port passengers to see Pope

7:55 pm | Friday, January 16th, 2015

NAGA CITY, Philippines — Almost 2,000 passengers, mostly headed for Tacloban City to see Pope Francis, were stranded in Sorsogon’s Matnog port as the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) cancelled all ferry trips crossing to Eastern Visayas around midnight of Thursday after the weather bureau raised a storm signal warning over the province.

Lieutenant Senior Grade Jerome Lozada, station commander of PCG-Sorsogon, said they have been receiving complaints from the 1,852 passengers who were stranded in Matnog port since Thursday midnight due to rough seas brought about by storm “Amang.”

He said they immediately cancelled ferry trips from Matnog to Allen port in Eastern Samar after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised public storm signal number 1 over Sorsogon as “Amang” moved closer to Luzon and Visayas.

Eastern Samar was also placed under storm signal number 1 along with the Eastern Visayas provinces of Northern Samar, Samar, Biliran and Leyte, where Tacloban City is located; and the Bicol provinces of Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Albay, Burias Island (Masbate), Sorsogon and Ticao Island (Masbate).

He said 32 cars, 43 buses and 49 trucks have also been stranded with the passengers within the port area.

“Amang,” packing maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, was located 531 kilometers east of Borongan City, Eastern Samar, according to the 1 p.m. bulletin of PAGASA.

It was moving west at 15 kph and projected to be 180 km east of Borongan city by Saturday morning, 40 km northeast of Legazpi City by Sunday morning and in the vicinity of Baler, Aurora, by Monday morning.

Senior Inspector Malu Calubaquib, spokesperson of Philippine National Police (PNP) in Bicol, said 38 trucks, 26 cars and nine buses have been stranded in the areas being guarded by the police outside of the Matnog port.

She said 66 trucks were left stationary in their line entering Matnog port while an additional 178 vehicles were also stranded at the PNP control points in Sorsogon City.

Calubaquib added 10 trucks and 35 buses have been temporarily held in terminals operated by Matnog’s municipal government.

At the Bulan port, also in Sorsogon, some 115 passengers were also stranded due to the cancellation of sea trips by the PCG, Lozada said.

He said they expected the weather to become more rough and waves to rise further on Saturday as “Amang” in its approach to land.

Lozada said they expected passengers to complain about the cancellation of trips as most of these people were excited to see the Pope in Tacloban City and waiting for their turn to cross to Eastern Samar since Wednesday.

“We cannot let them cross. Safety first,” he said.

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