Twelve vessels in seven ports of Negros Occidental were prevented from sailing as Tropical Storm Ofel approached yesterday causing about 2,333 passengers to be stranded, the Philippine Coast Guard in Bacolod said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration at 11 last night said storm signal number two remained over northern Negros Occidental and storm signal number one over the rest of the province.
Negros Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. and Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia late yesterday called on Negrenses and Bacoleños to join them in praying that the province and city be spared from the wrath of the storm.
The governor and the mayor said the provincial and city governments were on alert for rescue and relief operations.
The Provincial Disaster Management Team yesterday said it only expected some parts of northern Negros to be hit by the storm.
Leonardia said the new rule requires that a local government official can only announce the suspension of classes at 4:30 a.m. of the day the order is enforced.
Classes of pre school to kindergarten pupils can be suspended if storm signal number one remains up at 4 :30 a.m., he said.
Classes of pre school pupils to high school students can be suspended if typhoon signal number 2 prevails, and college students will be covered if signal number 3 is up, the mayor added.
At 11 p.m. yesterday PAG-ASA placed Aklan, Antique, Iloilo, Capiz, Guimaras, Biliran, the northern part of Negros Occidental, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Western and Eastern Samar, Camotes Island and the northern part of Cebu in the Visayas under typhoon signal number two.
These areas are expected to experience 61 to 100 kms per hour winds within the next 24 hours.
Storm signal No. 1 (30-60 kph winds) was hoisted over the rest of Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, rest of Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor and Northern Samar.
Residents in low lying and mountainous areas under public storm warning signal 2 and 1 are alerted against possible flash floods and landslides.
Those living in coastal areas under public storm warning signal 2 are alerted against big waves or storm surges, PAG-ASA said.
PAGASA also warned fishing boats and other small seacraft not to venture out into the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon, seaboards of Visayas and Mindanao due to combined effect of Ofel and the northeast monsoon.
PCG-Bacolod chief, Lt. Commander Dominador Senador, said travel of vessels out of Negros Occidental, and fast ferries from Iloilo to Bacolod had been cancelled yesterday as Ofel approached.
A PCG report said vessels not allowed to leave Negros, which had about 2,333 passengers, were three roll-on-roll-off vessels headed for Iloilo from the BREDCO port and the MV St. Peter the Apostle headed for Manila from the Banago Port in Bacolod City;
Three fast ferries at the San Carlos City Port that were going to Toledo City in Cebu, one motor banca from the Cadiz port headed for Bantayan, one motor banca from the Pulupandan Port going to Guimaras;
Two motor bancas from the Victorias City port headed for Ajuy, Iloilo and one roro-vessel in Escalante City going to Tabuelan, Cebu.*CPG