Tropical storm threatens holiday travel in Visayas

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By: Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – A tropical storm is threatening to halt sea and air travel which could inconvenience holiday travelers in the Visayas.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said a tropical storm with international name “Phanfone” was last spotted 1,365 kilometers east of Mindanao.

If it enters the PAR, the weather disturbance will be named Ursula, the weather agency earlier said, becoming the 21st storm to enter the country this year.

The storm is moving northwest at 15 kilometers per hour (kph) with maximum winds at 65 kph and gusts at 80 kph.

The storm is likely to make landfall over the Eastern portions of the Visayas and Mindanao on Christmas eve.

Current track by PAGASA also shows the storm may likely pass over the northern portion of Negros.

Due to the oncoming storm, thousands of passengers across the region have already made the decision to cross in order to avoid getting stranded in the port.

At the Iloilo City Fastcraft terminal over the weekend, hundreds of passengers lined up, with vessels reporting full capacity.

The same case is also happening at the Dumangas Roll-on/Roll-off port, wherein trucks are spotted lining up for at least three kilometers long waiting for their turn to board Bacolod-bound vessels.

Based on monitoring made by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Western Visayas around 2,709 outbound passengers passed in the Iloilo City fastcraft terminal and the Dumangas port.

In Bacolod City, hundreds of passengers have also crowded at the Bredco and Banago ports. As of 12 p.m. Sunday, the PCG in Negros Occidental reported 2,026 outbound passengers were recorded passing through various ports in the province.

The PCG is also strict in conducting inspections making sure that the vessels are in good condition and there is no overloading.

K9 units were also noted to have inspected passenger baggage and vehicles are being checked before being allowed to board their respective vessels.

The PCG is also advising travelers in the region to monitor the weather and if possible travel early, especially since they will immediately suspend sea travel once PAGASA declares a tropical storm warning signal.