3 dead, 103 rescued in ferry mishap off Southern Leyte
MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Rescuers have picked up 103 survivors and recovered 3 bodies in a ferry mishap off Southern Leyte.
MV Maharlika-2 of Archipelago Ferries Corporation, a passenger and cargo vessel, lost control and was carried away by the current and waves on Saturday night, September 13. The passengers abandoned the ferry, which eventually sank at the waters of Binit Point, Panaoan Island, Southern Leyte.
Governor Roger Mercado gave an update on the fatalities at 12 noon Sunday, September 14. "Three confirmed dead based on data from Lipata Ferry Terminal Command Post," he said in a text message.
Three nearby civilian vessels responded to the ferry's distress call – the ferry's sister ship MV Maharlika Quatro, MV Lara Ventures and MV Epic St Martin – rescuing the passengers and the crew.
At least 7 of those rescued were injured, based on a report from the Philippine Navy's Naval Forces Central (Navforcen).
Among those reported injured are the following:
- Ruth Ebol, 36, from Marihatag, Surigao Del Sur
- Peter John Santos, 24, from Capiz
- Jerson Sabrini, 16, from Surigo City
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said the injured victims have been brought to the Caraga Regional Hospital. A number of them suffered dehydration secondary to cold exposure.
The ferry was enroute to Liloan Port, Southern Leyte when it reported "problems with steering" at 6NM Northwest off Binit Point, Panaoan Island, according to the NDRRMC. It had been buffeted by heavy rains, worsened by Typhoon Luis (Kalmaegi), which is approaching the northern Philippines. (READ: #LuisPH: 7 areas under Signal No. 3)
"Rescue boats had trouble reaching them because the waves were really huge," NDRRMC spokeswoman Mina Marasigan said.
The Philippine Coast Guard and the Emergency Response Services of Surigao City led the search and rescue operations. The Navy and the Air Force also deployed their assets to help.
Although only 99 passengers and crew were listed on the manifest, it is common practice in the Philippines for some passengers to board ferries without being listed.
Improper lashing of vehicles and cargo goods?
The Philippine Navy deployed BRP Alberto Navarette (PG394), BRP Rafael Pargas (PG379), and fastcraft vessel DF350 to assisted in ferrying the survivors. Search and rescue operations continues as of this posting.
The Air Force also deployed early morning on Sunday the Super-Huey-2 from Davao to help in the aerial search.
Interview with the survivors show that there was a problem with the lashing of the vehicles and the cargo goods.
"Initial interview made by the crew of PG379 to one of the survivors revealed that at around 6 pm on Saturday, MV Maharlika 2 started to sink when the lashing of vehicles and other cargoes onboard parted, causing her to list to her starboard side until it capsized," said Lieutenant Commander Marineth Domingo, director of the Philippine Navy's Public Affairs Office.
Improper lashing of cargo had been reported to be the cause of other ferries to sink in the past.
Poorly-maintained, loosely-regulated ferries are the backbone of maritime travel in the sprawling archipelago.
But this has led to frequent accidents that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent years including the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster in 1987 when the Dona Paz ferry collided with an oil tanker, leaving more than 4,300 dead. – with reports from Agence France-Presse