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400 Koreans stranded in Philippines after storm

Dec 19,2017
Some 400 Korean tourists have been stranded on the popular beach destination of Boracay as a tropical storm rampaged the Philippines, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs here.

Tropical storm Kai-tak, also known locally as Urduja, blew over the Philippines Saturday, resulting in flooding and landslides and at least 30 people dead, according to local authorities. It has also forced more than 89,000 locals to flee to emergency shelters, according to the country’s National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The Korean Foreign Ministry said Monday that ferry services taking passengers to Panay, where the Kalibo International Airport is located, were halted between Saturday 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Sunday, leaving Korean travelers unable to leave the island over the weekend.

It added that the boat services temporarily resumed later Sunday afternoon and are operating regularly as of Monday.

However, while flights back to Korea from the Kalibo airport are operating regularly, some roads from the port to the airport continue to remain blocked, causing congestion and delays of an hour or so.

A consulate official said that there have been no reported deaths or injuries among the stranded Koreans.

At least 1,200 tourists were reported to be stuck on Boracay. Koreans are among the top travelers to the island.

The ministry said it is working with its consulate in Cebu and Korean associations in the Philippines to keep the stranded tourists informed about boat and flight schedules in order to help them return safely.

At the end of last month, hundreds of Korean tourists traveling to Indonesia were stranded there after airports were closed down due to the volcanic eruption of Mount Agung. The Korean government eventually chartered an Asiana Airlines flight to bring home some 270 stranded Koreans at Juanda International Airport near Surabaya in Indonesia.

In November 2013, the typhoon Haiyan killed more than 6,000 people in the Philippines, and recovery efforts are ongoing.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]