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SUPER typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) which ripped through central Philippines on Friday heavily affected the supply chain, with many seaports and airports ordered closed on Friday and Saturday.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) said 12 airports had suspended operations on Nov 8. But a day after, the airports of Legazpi, Surigao, Masbate and Iloilo resumed services, according to CAAP on its Twitter account.

Closed until Nov 9 was Caticlan and until Nov 10, Tacloban, Roxas, and Kalibo.

As of Saturday, the CAAP said it was still waiting feedback on airports in Romblon, Dumaguete, Busuanga, Bacolod, Caticlan and Puerto Princesa.

In an advisory, low-cost carrier Cebu Pacific Air said approximately 132 roundtrip domestic flights and four roundtrip international flights from Nov 7 to 9 had been cancelled.

Flag carrier Philippine Airlines and sister carrier PAL Express; Tigerair Philippines; AirAsia and AirAsia Zest cancelled flights on Nov 8.

Ninoy Aquino International Airport reported that 445 local flights and eight international flights were cancelled as of 12:00 pm of Nov 8.


Seaport operations

The Philippine Ports Authority and the Cebu Port Authority (CPA) suspended port operations in various areas affected by the typhoon, considered one of the strongest ever recorded.

PPA cancelled operations of 16 ports: Ormoc; Port of Baybay, Leyte; Palompon, Leyte; Port of Naval, Biliran; Port of Isabel, Leyte; Surigao and Port of Lipata, Surigao; Batangas, Poctoy, Lucena, Tabaco; Masbate; Albay, Legazpi, Tagbilaran, and Dumaguete.

“No vessels at port, no cargo handling. Roro operations have been hold in abeyance starting today (Nov 8) until typhoon Yolanda leaves,” the PPA said in a statement. The typhoon exited the Philippine area of responsibility Saturday afternoon.

CPA said trips of 24 passenger/cargo vessels were suspended on Nov 8, as well as 15 fastcraft, 16 general cargo, five container vessels and six tankers.

In a phone conversation with PortCalls on Nov 7, CPA general manager Edmund Tan said shippers and shipping lines have been promptly alerted. He said vessels were no longer being allowed to berth and instead were advised to take shelter in secure areas or directed to seek anchorage in the Cebu channel.

People’s Television on its Twitter account said 231 passengers and 184 cargo vessels were stranded in Batangas Port as of late afternoon of Nov 8.

In a statement, the Philippine Coast Guard said 51 vessels were stranded in different ports in affected areas.

Local reports as of Saturday morning point to at least 100 casualties, although the number is feared to be so much higher. Communication lines have been cut and many roads impassable, making casualty and damage assessment difficult to conduct.


Manila port operations

In a Nov 8 email to PortCalls Christian Gonzalez, general manager of the Philippines’ largest port Manila International Container Terminal, said, “We follow a very strict policy on storm safety. At this stage we are working as normal but in the event the storm comes within our threshold distance or takes a different track we will apply our SOP for shutting down and securing the port. We track storms on a 15-minute interval.”

South Harbor operator Asian Terminals, Inc, for its part, said it “temporarily suspended yard and vessel operation at South Harbor as of 7:00 am November 8. This is part of ATI’s commitment to ensure safety at the terminal. Normal port operations will resume as soon as weather improves.”

Gate and yard operations, however, resumed in South Harbor at 10pm on Nov 8 while vessel operations resumed midnight.

In a phone conversation with PortCalls on Nov. 8, Richard Barclay, chief executive officer of the Manila North Harbour Port Inc. which operates the North Harbor, said vessel operations at the port were suspended.

“Receiving outbound and delivering inbound cargoes is continuing,” Barclay said, adding that shipping lines have been alerted of the port’s status. Other operations are normal and port management is taking a wait-and-see stance, he said.

Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines (SCMAP) president Arnel Gamboa in a text message to PortCalls noted most Visayas and Mindanao warehouses operated by SCMAP members suspended operations starting Nov 8.

“Cebu, Tacloban, Bacolod, Iloilo areas (have) closed operations today. Safety is (of) primary importance,” Gamboa said.

Businesses in Central Visayas “will take a toll due to the back-to-back calamities.”

Recently, Cebu, Bohol and some parts of Mindanao were hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.

“Nothing we can do for now but wait and pray,” Gamboa concluded.

Customs operations were also limited due to the typhoon. Last Friday Customs Commissioner Rozzano Rufino Biazon in an advisory said BOC processed entries only up to 3:00 pm to give personnel time to prepare for the storm. The suspension, however, covered only those areas directly affected by the typhoon. — Roumina Pablo

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