MANILA, Philippines – Thirty-one people have been confirmed dead after three boats capsized off Iloilo last weekend, with rescuers still searching for missing passengers.
The boats, carrying a total of 96 passengers and crew, were ravaged by strong winds and huge waves along the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait on Saturday, August 8.
Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Western Visayas District commander Commodore Allan dela Vega yesterday reported the death toll, adding that three were still missing.
The boats, M/B Chi-Chi and M/B Keziah, which came from Iloilo City en route to Guimaras, capsized at around noon. The third boat, M/B Jenny Vince, met the same fate a few hours later.
Chi-Chi had four crewmen and 43 passengers when it sailed. Out of the 47 people on board, 11 perished, 35 survived and one remained missing.
For Jenny Vince, a total of 44 people consisting of four crew members and 40 passengers were on board when it departed from the port. The PCG said there were 22 survivors, 20 casualties and two were still missing.
Dela Vega said that on the other hand, there were only five crewmen on board the Keziah when it was hit by the wind and waves.
The PCG in Iloilo retrieved 10 bodies under the capsized Jenny Vince. Another body was found off Dumangas town.
When the sky turned dark
Survivors recalled that the sky turned dark, after which huge waves and strong winds that accompanied monsoon rains hit their vessels.
Authorities thus wondered why the third ferry, the Jenny Vince, was still allowed to sail about three hours after the first two ferries tipped.
The PCG’s initial investigation revealed that the boats sailed when the weather was still good.
“When the boats left port, there was good weather,” dela Vega said.
Officials said the casualties from M/B Chi-Chi and M/B Keziah were en route to visit Guimaras Island. Meanwhile, the fatalities from Jenny Vince were mostly tourists and students.
‘Secure the folks’
Malacañang called for prudence and caution in sea travel after the tragedy.
“I think whoever is responsible for securing the folks during storms should exercise more prudence, caution, and should give the people more guidelines relative to facing this kind of disaster,” Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.
The palace also offered condolences to the families of the victims.
Photo courtesy: Palawan News/Google