Typhoon leaves 3,000 stranded in seaports

MANILA, Philippines - More than 3,000 people were stranded in seaports across the country as Supertyphoon "Yolanda" whipped central Philippines on Friday.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) suspended all sailings, including fishing operations, but travelers still went to the terminals despite warnings from the state weather bureau against going to sea.

As of 1 p.m., 3,093 passengers were stranded in ports in Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Southern Tagalog and Bicol, the Coast Guard said.

The Sorsogon port had the largest number of stranded passengers, with 1,587, followed by Catbalogan port, 783.

Early warnings

The Coast Guard barred 155 vessels and 13 motorboats from leaving port.

Cmdr. Armand Balilo, Coast Guard spokesperson, said the number of stranded passengers was lower this time, something he credited to early warnings from the weather bureau Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

The early warnings enabled the Coast Guard to issue safety bulletins to vessels well before Yolanda hit land Friday morning, Balilo said.

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He said a crew member of a barge went missing after jumping into the sea off Bohol province when huge waves tilted the vessel. "There was a low tide in the area that caused the LCT (landing craft tank) Roger to run aground. This was followed by big waves that caused it to tilt, prompting its eight crewmen to jump into the water," Balilo said.

Seven of the crew members managed to reach the shore.

The one who was missing remained unidentified as of press time Friday night.

Balilo said Coast Guard rescuers were looking for the missing man but stormy weather and big waves hampered the search.