By Doris C. Bongcac and Morexette Marie B. Erram |February 13,2018 - 11:56 PM

Passenger vessels are anchored in Cebu City ports after the Coast Guard canceled all trips, causing hundreds to be stranded.

Basyang leaves hundreds stranded, causes power outage and damage to roads

Fifteen Chinese nationals, who tried to cross the rough waters off Bohol at the height of Tropical Depression Basyang shortly after noontime yesterday on board two pumpboats, were rescued in a small islet off Buenavista town.

The motor bancas they were riding encountered engine problems.

The Chinese Consulate in Cebu reported them missing and asked the Philippine Coast Guard station to launch a search and rescue operation.

Almost four hours later, the group, which included four children aged 10 years old and below, was found taking shelter in nearby Cabul-an Island, said Ethel Natera of the Chinese Consulate Office in Cebu.

Despite engine trouble, the motor bancas managed to navigate and take refuge on the island.

The PCG station in Talibon found the group at around 5 p.m. and turned them over to the PCG station in Getafe where they will spend the night.

Natera said they received a call for help at around 2 p.m. Although uncertain where the group departed from, Natera said the Chinese nationals hired the two pumpboats to bring them to the mainland.

The group is scheduled to return to Cebu on Wednesday.

Better weather

Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan bureau chief, Engr. Al Quiblat announced that the weather will improve this afternoon, February 14, in time for everyone to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

“On Wednesday morning, Basyang will be within the western coasts of Negros Island. So, we can already expect sunny weather. But strong winds will still prevail due to the presence of the northeast monsoon (hanging amihan),” said Quiblat. While he advised the resumption of classes today, Governor Hilario Davide III yesterday announced that classes in all levels will continue to be suspended in the entire province.

In Cebu City, Mayor Tomas Osmeña also announced on his Facebook account that classes will still be suspended today.

Quiblat, meanwhile, said vessels with a gross tonnage below 250 cannot yet be allowed to leave port. “Small boats such as bancas are not advised to set sail on Wednesday. Seas may remain rough but only ships with above 250 gross tonnage can manage to sail through them,” Quiblat added.

Basyang is forecast to exit the country on Friday afternoon but will be within the vicinity of Palawan, located more than 670 kilometers west of Cebu, this afternoon.

Basyang’s wrath

The provinces of Bohol, Siquijor and Negros Oriental, southern Cebu and southern Leyte were placed under signal No. 2 at 5 a.m. yesterday.

Wind velocity was estimated between 61 to 120 kilometers per hour.

Signal No. 1 was also hoisted over the rest of Cebu, Leyte, Biliran, Samar, Eastern Samar, Aklan, Capiz, Antique, Iloilo, Guimaras and Negros Occidental.

Coast Guard issued a gale warning and suspended outgoing sea voyages from Cebu.

In Cebu City, classes were suspended and barangays were placed on alert.

Kaohsiung buses were on standby to ferry stranded students.

Aside from fallen trees, which were immediately cleared, no major damage was wrought.

Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said 109 families or over 300 individuals in five towns in southern Cebu were preemptively evacuated to safer locations.

Of this number, 64 families (195 individuals) are from Barangay Sta. Filomena in

Alegria town and 23 families are from Barangay Bagacay in Sibonga.

They were at risk of being swept away by storm surges brought by strong winds.

Six families (22 individuals) from Barangay Poblacion in Boljoon whose houses are located near the riverbanks of Lusopan River and nine families (53 individuals) in Barangay Looc, Ginatilan who are residing in a landslide-prone area, were also evacuated.

A municipal road in Barili also collapsed, and one lane remained unpassable.

There was a minor landslide in Barangay Ilaya, San Fernando. PDRRMO said its counterpart in the municipality conducted clearing operations minutes after it was reported.

Rough seas were experienced in the entire Cebu island. In Medellin, a third-class municipality located 115 kilometers northwest of Cebu City, a 48-year-old fisherman, identified as Demetrio Booc, went missing for five hours after rough seas caused his motorized banca to capsize.

He was fishing off the waters of Gibitngil and Bantayan Islands.

Booc was reported missing on the early hours of Tuesday but around five hours later, a fisherman found him clinging on his capsized boat and brought him back to land.

Medellin Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) chief Gemma Villamor said Booc managed to stay afloat despite the huge waves.

Power outage

Strong winds caused power interruption in the cities of Cebu and Naga starting at 6 a.m., when light to moderate rains fell.

Affected areas included Barangays Busay, Babag, Bonbon, Tinago , Buhisan, Toong, Pamutan and Tabunan in Cebu City and Barangay Langtad in Naga City.

But power was restored in these areas before nighttime.

At 9:15 a.m., Basyang made a landfall in Cortes, Surigao del Sur.

Storm signal warning in Cebu and Bohol provinces was downgraded to Signal No. 1 in Pagasa’s 5 p.m. advisory. /With Benjie B. Talisic and Doris Mae C. Mondragon

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