MTSAT ENHANCED-IR Satellite Image  2:30 p.m., 25 October 2012

More than 13,000 passengers have been stranded in several ports due to Tropical Storm “Ofel”.

Defense undersecretary Benito Ramos said stranded were at least 13,143 passengers trying to get to their home provinces early to prepare for All Saints’ Day.

“Most of them have already reserved tickets in shipping companies so they can prepare early for ‘undas’ (or All Saints’Day),” Ramos said.

Citing Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)’s 11 pm Wednesday update, Ramos said three shipping vessels carrying 2,032 passengers were forced to stay in Manila's port for safety.

The executive director of National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) noted about 1,646 were not able to leave Batangas port due to the big waves generated by the storm. 

He clarified that 1,198 passengers mostly from 28 buses as well as several cars and trucks were stranded in Sorsogon while two ships were taken to safety in the ports of Matnog and Pilar.

Ramos added that a total of 179 private and commercial sea vessels carrying 2,327 people were also trapped in Cebu, Tagbilaran, and Dumaguete.

The Defense official said about 3,846 people have also been stranded after 26 boats and ships were not able to travel to and from various ports in Bacolod, Caticlan, and Roxas in Visayas.

He also reported PCG assisted 118 small and big boats carrying 2,027 people to safety in Macabalan Wharf as well as ports in Surigao, Butuan, Dapitan, and Ozamis.

The severe weather disturbance also forced airline companies to cancel several flights.

Meanwhile, PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo reminded passengers to check the hourly weather update from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Balilo advised motorists and commuters who will go through long distances to know the storm’s severe effects on before actually traveling to their home provinces for Nov. 1.

He explained PAGASA advisory will help passengers decide whether conditions will be safe for travel or not, which could prevent accidents in the coming days.

In its 11 am update, PAGASA said Tropical Storm “Ofel” has crossed the southern part of Mindoro Island and was spotted at about 40 kms west of Mamburao.

The weather bureau said the storm packs maximum sustained winds of 70 kph near its center and a gustiness of 90 kph as it moves towards West Philippine Sea at speed of 22 kph.

Forecasters warn “Ofel will dump moderate to intense rainfall or 5 to 25 mm per hour amount of rain in areas that will be covered by the storm’s 350-km diameter.

Public Warning Storm Signal No. 2 is still hoisted over Batangas, Lubang Island, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindor, and Romblon.

Meanwhile, Public Warning Storm Signal 1 is still in effect in Metro Manila, Bataan, Southern Quezon, Burias Island and Masbate,  Aklan, Capiz, Iloilo and Calamian Group of Islands.

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