CEBU CITY, Philippines (UPDATED – Forty-five of the 61 confirmed deaths in the Ormoc City sea tragedy are Cebuanos, the Cebu Disaster Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) said on Monday, July 6. (READ: LIST: Casualties in the Ormoc sea tragedy)
The Cebu PDRRMO reinforced the local government in Eastern Visayas in its search and rescue operations since a boat carrying 189 persons capsized on Thursday after it left the Ormoc port for Cebu.
Bart Tribunalo, the Cebu PDRRMO chief who flew via helicopter to Ormoc, said that the casualties identified were all from Cebu’s Pilar, Tudela, and San Francisco towns that form part of the Camotes Island Group.
Last Friday, Tribunalo said about 95% of the passengers of the ill-fated MBCA Nirvana-B were travelling to their homes in Camotes.
Ormoc City in Leyte province is the nearest urban center for the Camotes islands in Cebu. Residents can reach Ormoc in about an hour, while it takes them around 3 hours via ferry to get to Cebu mainland’s Danao City.
The 4-man Cebu delegation that helped Ormoc authorities were composed of veterans in several sea tragedies. In the aftermath of the ship collision involving M/V St Thomas Aquinas in 2013, these men helped in establishing an incident command center that was not readily created by the local government of Ormoc City.
“We reinforced the system of the local government unit of Ormoc. We are thankful that their reception was warm,” said Tribunalo, who was dispatched by Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III Friday afternoon.
Fresh start for survivors
Among the survivors are Cebuano Bryan Donayre, 33, his wife Eileen, and their 5-month-old son Adrian.
At a hospital in Ormoc where they were treated for injuries, Bryan told Rappler that he had fetched his family from Merida, Leyte, so they could all live in his hometown of Pilar in Camotes islands.
He apparently had a misunderstanding with his wife, and his trip to Ormoc was his way of patching things up.
“Ayaw nila sa akin para sa pamilya ko, pero pinilit ko na kunin ko sila at dalhin sa Pilar sa bayan ko,” Bryan said. (Her relatives don’t like me for her, but I insisted on getting my family back so I can bring them home to Pilar.)
He was just grateful they all survived the tragedy to start again.
On Monday, July 6, Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said the provincial government will help the victims and their families file charges against those responsible for the sea mishap.
– with a report from Jazmin Bonifacio in Ormoc City/Rappler.com