DFA warns 153,000 Filipinos in the path of Hurricane Irma
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) issued a warning on Wednesday, September 6, to more than 153,000 Filipinos in the path of Hurricane Irma in the United States.
"Our kababayans (countrymen) in Florida and other parts of the East Coast and the Caribbean must heed the warnings of weather experts and take the necessary precautions to ensure their safety," Philippine Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said in a statement.
The Philippine government also advised affected Filipinos "to stock up on food and other emergency provisions."
This warning comes as Irma hit land in the island of Barbuda on Wednesday, as it barreled its way across the Caribbean.
The US National Hurricane Center earlier described Irma as "extremely dangerous."
In the DFA statement on Wednesday, the chargé d'affaires of the Philippine embassy in Washington, Patrick Chuasoto, issued a similar warning for Filipinos.
"We advise all our kababayans along the path of Hurricane Irma to stay indoors and avoid unnecessary travel until the storm has passed," Chuasoto said.
Chuasoto provided the breakdown of the 153,722 Filipinos who will be affected by Irma:
- Florida – 150,115 Filipinos
- Caribbean Islands – 3,607 Filipinos
Chuasoto listed the following as the islands that Irma will likely cross in the Caribbean:
- Antigua, Barbuda, Anguilla, Montserrat, St Kitts, and Nevis
- Saba, St Eustatius, and Saint Maarten
- Saint Martin and Saint Barthelemy
- British Virgin Islands
- US Virgin Islands
- Puerto Rico, Vieques, and Culebra and
Philippine Ambassador to Mexico Eduardo de Vega also said Irma is expected to hit Cuba, with more than 500 Filipinos, and the Dominican Republic, with around 100.
The DFA advised Filipinos who may need assistance to call the following emergency hotlines:
- Philippine embassy in Washington DC: +1-202-368-2767
- Philippine embassy in Mexico: +52-155-2771-3776
Irma, which has triggered alarm and alerts from the French West Indies to Florida, comes after Hurricane Harvey devastated parts of Texas and Louisiana in late August. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com