ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/18 January) – The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here has suspended travel by sea from this city to Sulu and Tawi-tawi provinces and vice-versa effective Friday evening as public storm signal number 1 has been raised over seven Mindanao provinces due to tropical depression “Agaton.”
Also suspended effective Friday evening was the travel of vessels from here to the Davao and Surigao provinces, which are among the areas placed under storm signal number 1, according to Lieutenant Junior Grade Jomark Angue, commander of the PCG Zamboanga Station.
A of 11 a.m. Saturday, Agaton was spotted 145 kilometers east of Surigao City packing maximum sustained winds of 55 kph near its center, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.
Estimated rainfall amount is from 5 – 15 mm per hour (moderate – heavy) within the 300 km diameter of the tropical depression, the weather bureau said.
Agaton is expected to be at 40 km southeast of Surigao City on Sunday morning, in the vicinity of Cagayan de Oro City by Monday morning, and 65 km southwest of Cotabato City on Tuesday morning, PAGASA said.
Provinces in Mindanao under storm signal number 1 are Surigao del Norte (including Siargao Island), Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Island, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental and Compostella Valley.
Angue said they have suspended boat trips to Sulu and Tawi-tawi provinces to prevent possible tragedy due to the rough sea condition, which is not safe for navigation.
He described the sea condition outside the municipal waters as “from rough to very rough” although the two provinces are not directly affected by the tropical depression.
However, Angue said they have not suspended the boat trips from this city to Basilan and vice-versa since the sea condition in the area is “moderate to rough” and “not dangerous for navigation.”
But he said the boat captains have the authority to suspend or cancel trips depending on the situation.
“Kung hindi kaya ng barko nila (If their boats are not capable), they can suspend the trip,” he added.
He said the suspension of trips bound for Sulu, Tawi-tawi, Davao and Surigao will remain in effect until the weather bureau advises that it is already safe to travel by sea.
Hundreds of passengers bound for Sulu and Tawi-tawi provinces have been stranded here due to the suspension of boat trips to the two places.
Angue also advised fishermen to refrain from fishing expeditions due to the unfavorable sea condition in the area. (MindaNews)