Cebu collision: Captains blame each other
(UPDATED) The captains of the two vessels that collided against each other in Cebu are not owning up to their errors

AFTERMATH. Life rafts from the sunken ferry St. Thomas Aquinas float in front of cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7 on August 17, 2013, whose bow was destroyed after a colliding with the ferry the night before off Talisay, Cebu. Photo by AFP/Ted Aljibe

CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – They’re pointing fingers at each other.

The captains of passenger vessel MV St Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel MV Sulpicio Express Siete each said they were not to blame for the collision that killed at least 50 on Friday, August 16. As of Tuesday morning, August 20, the number of dead was pegged at 63, while 57 were listed as missing.

READ: Missing in Cebu ferry disaster down to 87

In his account, Capt Reynan Bermejo of St Thomas Aquinas said the collision off the coast of Talisay City in Cebu was caused by the cargo vessel which was on the same inbound lane they were in as they were approaching the port. He said he could only steer the ferry towards the right side because of shallow waters on the left.

Efforts to alert MV Sulpicio Express Siete to change its course came to naught, however. St Thomas Aquinas was hit on its right side, after which it sank after a few minutes.

Capt Rolito Gilo of the cargo vessel said he saw the passenger vessel on the left side approaching Lauis Ledge.

Gilo said calls to the passenger vessel went unheeded. A minute after the last call, the Aquinas ship responded with a red light and maintained its course.

However, according to Gilo, Aquinas suddenly turned right. He believes this is what caused the collision.

Notwithstanding damage to the freighter’s bow, the crew of Sulpicio Express rescued 181 passengers and 33 crewmembers from the sunken Aquinas. 

A formal investigation will be conducted by the Special Maritime Board of Inquiry. –