Pagasa lifts storm signals in Mindanao

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/12 November) — All storm signals over Mindanao were lifted Tuesday afternoon after tropical depression Zoraida had weakened into a low pressure area.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), however, said moderate to heavy rain showers would continue in Northern Mindanao and Zamboanga Peninsula on Tuesday night.

Disaster risk reduction management councils in Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental province have delayed the lifting of preemptive evacuation until Tuesday midnight.

Cagayan de Oro Social Welfare Development Chief Teddy Sabugaa said they wanted to make sure the weather disturbance has totally dissipated to ensure the safety of the residents living beside Cagayan de Oro River.

Likewise, Edmundo Pacamalan, Misamis Oriental provincial administrator said they will wait for another four to five hours to make sure no flashfloods will occur in the rivers and creeks.

“Water from the mountains takes around that time to travel to the plains. We will wait,” Pacamalan said.

Both Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental issued preemptive evacuation orders after PAGASA hoisted typhoon signal no. 1 last Monday night.

Sabugaa said the preemptive evacuation prioritized the elderly and the children.

In Gingoog City, at least 315 families had evacuated Tuesday morning for fear that the Odiongan River might overflow.

Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental also suspended classes in all levels Tuesday morning.

In Surigao City, all vessels have been banned from leaving the local seaports since Monday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

PCG-Surigao Station Commander Zenmond Duque said the no-sail policy even affected people who were planning to bring relief goods from Lipata port for distribution to victims of super typhoon Yolanda in Leyte and Samar.

Liloan port in Southern Leyte can be reached in 3.5 hours and San Ricardo port also in Southern Leyte in 1.5 hours by ferry from Lipata port.

Duque said sea trips from Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, and Bucas Grande Islands have been suspended since Monday.

At least 400 passengers have been stranded since yesterday in Lipata port, according to Danilo Sebial, an employee of Maharlika Shipping Lines.

He said at least 10 passenger buses bound for Luzon, dozens of cargo trucks and several other vehicles were queuing outside and inside the port.

He added policemen aboard three buses, two fire trucks, and ambulances bound for Tacloban City were also stranded.

Sebial said their shipping lines had incurred losses because of the successive cancellation of trips since last week when tropical depression Wilma hit Surigao City on November 4. Trips were also cancelled starting November 7, a day before super typhoon Yolanda came, and yesterday afternoon because of Zoraida.

Several passengers bound for Cebu were also stranded at the main seaport, according to Al Caturla, an official of the Port Police Office at the Philippine Ports Authority.

Two flights for Cebu were cancelled today, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines-Surigao City Office.

Meanwhile, classes had remained suspended for the pre-school and elementary levels in Surigao del Norte, Surigao City and Dinagat.

The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council has advised all 54 villages to prepare for preemptive evacuation.

Residents were also advised to prepare emergency survival kits. (Froilan Gallardo and Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)