Legazpi City, July 22, 2003 By Celso Amo (Star) About 1,398 passengers were stranded in six ports in the Bicol region as public storm signal no. 2 was raised over Catanduanes yesterday morning due to typhoon "Harurot".

Commander Avelino Fortuna, Bicol Coast Guard deputy commander, said there were 565 passengers who were stranded in Matnog port in Sorsogon including 28 trucks, 13 buses and four small vehicles; 300 in Tabaco City port including four trucks, two buses and four small vehicles; 42 in Virac port including six trucks; 123 in Bulan port in Sorsogon; 325 in Pilar port in Sorsogon and another 43 in Sabang port in San Jose town, Camarines Sur.

Roll-on-roll-off ferry Maharlika 1 with 1,000 gross tonnage, however, continued to ply the Matnog-Allen route yesterday morning but vessels below 1,000 gross tonnage were not allowed to ply the Northern Samar, Maharlika 4, King Frederick and MV Delfin Joyles routes.

Vessels plying the Virac-Tabaco City route, which were grounded at the Tabaco city port, include the MV Eugenia, MV Regina Calixta II and Star Ferry.

Hernando Pantoja, officer-in-charge of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) here, said that the eye of typhoon Harurot was 230 kilometers east of Virac town in Catanduanes as of 10 a.m. yesterday morning.

The strength of its sustained winds was 155 kph near the center with gustiness up to 185 kph.

Public storm signal no. 2 was raised over Catanduanes while storm signal no. 1 was up in Sorsogon, Albay, Samar provinces, Biliran Island, Camarines provinces, Quezon, Pulilio Island, Southern Quezon, Aurora, Isabela and Cagayan yesterday morning.

Meanwhile in Ormoc City, Mayor Carmelo J. Locsin has asked the City Disaster Coordinating Council to declare the city under a state of calamity after flashfloods, spawned by heavy rains, hit the area at the height of tropical storm Gilas last week.

One woman drowned and 17 barangays remain flooded until today. About 270 families also lost their homes to rampaging flood waters. Locsin said that millions worth of rice and sugarcane were damaged by the floods.

In Surigao, at least 18 fishermen survived a 48-hour ordeal at sea after their five outriggers capsized at the height of typhoon Gilas on Thursday off the waters of General Luna, Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte, a belated report from the Office of the Provincial Governor said yesterday,

Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra immediately ordered a search and rescue operation to search for more possible survivors. With Miriam Garcia Desacada and Bong Fabe

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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