Thursday, June 14, 2012

5 dead, 54 rescued as ferry capsizes off Palawan

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday that five people died and 54 others were rescued after a ferry sank off Palawan when it encountered bad weather late Tuesday night.

PCG spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Armand Balilo said search and rescue operations were still ongoing as of press time for passengers who could not have been on the manifest of the 95.96-gross ton M/V Josille 2 that sank near Pagawanin Island in El Nido, Palawan.

Of those rescued, 16 were saved by the motorboat M/B Princess Rachelle and brought to Tent Island, and eight others by the Novena yacht and they were taken to Liminangcong in Taytay, Palawan.

Balilo said 30 others were rescued by fishermen and were brought to Tent Island.

The five fatalities included an elderly person, a child, and a crewmember. Balilo said the fatalities were not immediately identified.

The PCG deployed the BRP Ilocos Norte and a rescue team from its Special Operations Group. A Navy ship and local vessels also joined the search and rescue operations.

The vessel was reportedly skippered by Ramon de Castro and owned by the Atienza Shipping Lines based in Batangas City.

“The initial information is that the vessel ran aground, lost its balance and sank. But this has yet to be verified and after we have finished with our search and rescue operations, there would be an in-depth investigation to determine the reason why it sank,” said Balilo.

Palawan PCG district commander Commodore Enrico Evangelista said the M/V Jociel 2 left Liminangcong Port in Palawan and was headed to El Nido when it was battered by big waves.

One of the passengers managed to contact the local PCG station which in turn immediately sent a patrol boat to conduct search-and-rescue operations.

The Maritime Industry Authority suspended the fleet operation of Atienza Shipping Linesfollowing the incident.

Balilo said the onset of the typhoon season has brought heavy rains and strong waves in southern Mindanao, where 49 fishermen were rescued and 80 others were still unaccounted for.

Two days of flooding in several southern provinces displaced nearly 700 people and at least one drowned in Sarangani’s Glan town, said Benito Ramos, head of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council. Those who fled were being sheltered in public gymnasiums.

A new storm in the western Pacific was forecast to reach eastern Philippines later this week and could become the second typhoon of the year.

– With Juancho Mahusay, Ed Amoroso, Rainier Allan Ronda, AP - By Evelyn Macairan