ORMOC CITY, Philippines (UPDATED) – Emotions ran high here as authorities struggled against rough seas to rescue passengers of motor boat Kim Nirvana, which capsized off the coast of Leyte on Thursday, July 2. (READ: At least 36 dead as boat capizes off Leyte)
Community paper EV Mail reported the experience of several rescued passengers, including Christian Labadia, 25, whose wife Rose and one-year-old son Kristof had yet to be rescued as of posting.
In her report shared with Rappler, EV Mail publisher Lalaine Jimenea wrote that according to Labadia, he should have listened to his wife, who wanted to get off the boat because of the rough waters, but he persuaded her to accompany him.
“Makapamalikas naman lang ta sa Ginoo ani (I curse God for what happened),” he said.
Labadia blamed the Philippine Coast Guard for allowing the boat to sail despite the rough sea and even if it was allegedly “overloaded.” He said the boat carried construction materials, aside from passengers.
He also said the boat captain should be jailed for criminal negligence, and for not giving them life vests.
Captain Pedro Tinampay of the Philippine Coast Guard District Eastern Visayas said allegations of overloading will be investigated.
As of 5 pm on Thursday, the Philippine Coast Guard’s official data showed that 36 people died, 127 rescued, and 26 remain missing in the sea tragedy.
As of Thursday evening, the death toll had risen to 38. (READ: Rescuers in Ormoc: Slim hope of finding survivors)
No life vest: A blessing
Another rescued passenger interviewed by EV Mail, teacher Wilma Pacatang from Camotes Islands, narrated that having no life vest might have saved her life.
Interviewed at the Ormoc Doctors Hospital, where some of the rescued passengers were brought, she said she was on the lower level of the two-level boat when the mishap struck. A good swimmer, she managed to find her way out of the capsized vessel, and held on to a floating wooden plank while waiting for rescuers.
She confirmed that they were not given life vests, but this worked well for her. Since she was seated at the bottom floor, a life vest could have trapped her inside, as she would have had more difficulty swimming out.
Father rescues daughter
Angel Sinday, a 6-year-old girl, told nurses at the Ormoc Doctors Hospital that her father rescued her.
Her co-passengers confirmed the story. They said that after Angel’s father made sure his daughter was safe, he went back to the boat to try to save his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
The father, wife, and younger child were reportedly not seen since.
Hospital administrator Jake Cortes said Sinday’s relatives have gone to the hospital to claim her, but hospital authorities refused to do so as they wait for her nearest kin to arrive.
A rescued passenger named Lucena Sinday was brought to a separate hospital but it was not immediately known if they were related. – Rappler.com