63 rescued off Sibonga: Vessel capsizes amid big waves
CEBU, Philippines — A vessel carrying 63 passengers and crew members bound for Sibonga, Cebu from Loon, Bohol capsized mid-sea yesterday after being battered by huge waves.
Everyone onboard the MV Siargao Princess was safe after they were rescued by coast guard personnel three to five nautical miles off the coast of Sibonga yesterday afternoon.
Investigation showed that the Philippine Coast Guard Cebu Station first received a call from SN1 Ralph Barajan, one of the personnel of PCG Southern Cebu, informing the former that the vessel had encountered big waves at sea which resulted in its overturning.
The vessel departed at around 9:30 a.m. yesterday from the port of Loon town in Bohol and was supposed to arrive at the port in Sibonga, Cebu at 11 a.m.
According to Lt. Junior Grade Michael John Encina, spokesperson of PCG-7, they quickly alerted MRRV 4406 unit to respond to the alarm, including other special operation groups, medical team, and personnel from municipal and city disaster offices nearby.
Among those deployed were additional two Quick Response Teams from Headquarters CGDCV to proceed in Carcar. PCG also coordinated with Central Command (AFP) in request to conduct aerial search.
PNP Maritime was also asked to help in SAR operations and coordinated with MARINA-7 for assessment of ship’s documents.
It also coordinated with LGU thru MDRRM of Naga, Carcar, Argao and Sibonga to provide necessary assistance.
“Nalunod po yung barko but all the passengers and crew were all safe. Na rescue silang lahat bago pa lumubog yung barko,”said Encina.
Encina said they will investigate further the incident and check the gross tonnage of the vessel to determine its maximum capacity.
The captain has been asked to submit a maritime incident report as well within 24 hours. Encina thanked some off-duty coast guard personnel who directed the passengers on what to do for the proper and safe rescue operation, which did not last long.
Encina, however, reported that three passengers were brought to the hospital in Carcar after they tried to swim back ashore. Another was brought to a hospital in Cebu City when his blood pressure shot up.
A passenger who was with eight other family members said they waited for the rescue for two hours and expressed thanks to Barajan for relaying their situation to authorities. Some of the passengers, she noted, were already panicking while waiting for rescuers.
The group came over to Cebu, particularly to Simala Shrine in Sibonga to light candles in honor of Mama Mary. Despite the incident, she said their faith will not be dampened.
Barajan, for his part, said that he was only doing his duty. Nevertheless, he admitted that he was concerned with some of the passengers, especially the old and the young ones. He was able to rescue a few children.
Barajan believed that everyone aboard was accounted for as he was the last person to jump off the ill-fated vessel onto the coast guard rescue boat. JMD (FREEMAN)