Stranded tourists want out of Siargao

DEL CARMEN, Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte (MindaNews / 21 December) –

This world-famous destination is now a nightmare for local and foreign tourists stranded because of super typhoon ‘Odette.’ They all want out, and quick,  as there is no electricity, no internet and phone connection, and not enough water and food.

‘Odette’ made its first of nine landfalls in the Philippines in Siargao Island at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 16.

Stranded tourists flock to the Sayak Airport in Del Carmen, Siargao Island to wait for flights that would take them out of the island battered by super typhoon ‘Odette.’ MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“We have been here for two days already in the airport, but we got no word yet from the airport authorities or from local officials,” said a foreigner at the Sayak Airport here.

Several tourists have been staying at the airport for days now, to take the chance at getting a seat on a military aircraft or on mercy flights.

Roemer Juan, who was at the airport on Tuesday morning said he had been staying  there for two nights to wait for the C-130 flight.

Juan says he understands the situation. “We have also to understand that they are bringing in relief goods for the people suffering,” said Juan who opened his restobar, El Lobo, a few weeks ago in General Luna town. The restobar was severely damaged.

“I need to go to Manila but I’ll come back soon,” he said.

Stranded tourists wait at the airport in Siargao, Surigao del Norte, for a flight that would take them out of the island battered by super typhoon ‘Odette.’ MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

Josepina Nuñez, Civil Aviation Airport manager, told MindaNews that stranded  passengers should understand the situation.

“The airport has been severely damaged, communication is down and we are fast-tracking the repair of our communication tower and vital facilities,” she said.

For several days, stranded tourists waiting at the airport could not find anything to eat or drink. Food stalls were set set up only on Monday.

Boat ride and mercy flights

Several humanitarian flights have landed here carrying relief goods. A team from the Philippine Red Cross arrived this morning on board Airswift.

Several tourists have been able to fly to Manila on the plane that brought relief goods to Siargao.

The day after the typhoon hit the island,  tourists started fleeing Siargao by taking the boat bound for Barangay Hayanggabon in Claver town in Surigao del Norte but boat operators charged them from 1,500 pesos to 3,000 pesos.

“Instead motabang sa mga tawo, nagsamantala sila sa higayon” (Instead of helping the people, they are taking advantage of the situation),  resident Bryan Cubero said.

Stranded tourists at the airport in Siargao take their chance to fly out of the island after super typhoon ‘Odette’ unleashed its fury. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

“We will establish communication GSAT for Libreng Tawag (Free Calls),  conduct an assessment of the damages and needs,” said Pive Flor Tabique, technical officer and Chapter Development Office.

He said they have a few medicines, first aid kits and will set up a first aid station.

A team from GreenPeace also arrived on a Sunlight flight, to  install solar panels for two resorts so people can start charging their phones and flash lights.

An internet connection via satellite has been set up at two resorts now in General Luna while a charging station was offered by an ice plant in Barangay Consuelo also in General Luna. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)