Zamboanga Ferry passengers safe-A A +A
Thursday, January 3, 2013
CEBU CITY (Updated) -- A total of 228 passengers and 62 crew members of the ferry that got stuck off Dumaguete Thursday morning are now out of harm's way, the Philippine Coast Guard said.
Earlier, M/V Zamboanga Ferry of George and Peter (GP) Lines coming from Zamboanga City got stuck off the port of Dumaguete City at 9 a.m. after failing to dock due to strong winds and huge waves brought by Tropical Storm "Auring."
According to Crispin Chiong, chief petty officer of the Dumaguete Coast Guard, the vessel was already maneuvering to dock but was not properly roped, causing strong waves to push it to shallower waters.
Contrary to earlier reports, Georgia Felice Chiongbian Rama, vice president of GP Lines, clarified that the vessel did not encounter engine failure and that the ship’s Captain Roland Villarin “quickly maneuvered the vessel out of the port area and out of harm's way to secure the safety of all the passengers and crew onboard and to wait until it is safe to dock once the weather subsides.”
“Strong gusts of wind at 34 kilometers per hour caused by typhoon Auring cut the mooring lines and made it difficult for the vessel to dock as the winds and waves were pushing it towards the pier,” GP Lines’ official statement read.
“The strong winds pushed the vessel out to the Boulevard area where it is at present, so we had to anchor down and quadruple-tie the vessel to Pier 6 for it to avoid hitting the Boulevard,” the statement further read.
In a phone interview, Rama said that majority of the passengers, especially the children and elderly, were already rescued and brought to shore by members of the Philippine Coast Guard, local government officials, and volunteers.
Doctors are on standby for those that may need any assistance, meals have been given to all passengers, and local authorities and volunteers are also onsite, she said.
Rama also clarified that the incident was due to the unexpected weather and that the storm signal was raised at 10 a.m., only after the incident.
As of this posting Thursday, all passengers have disembarked to safety and that all onboard are safe.
The inter-island vessel was scheduled to leave Dumaguete for Cebu City at 11 a.m. Thursday, but because public storm warning signal 1 was hoisted over the city around the time, all vessels were grounded.
Meanwhile, all trips have been cancelled due to Auring, Chiong said.
Captain Rolando Punzalan of the Cebu Coast Guard Station confirmed that as of 4 p.m. Thursday, all 228 passengers were rescued but 14 crew members stayed behind while awaiting instructions.
Gesite said the rescue operations started at 10 a.m. and lasted until 4 p.m. Thursday because rescuers used only rubber boats.
All passengers were brought to the passenger terminal where they were given food and clothing and were provided debriefing services, especially those who showed signs of trauma.
The Marina has started an investigation on what happened.
Auring also brought strong winds and heavy rains to Cebu’s southeastern towns, including Carcar City, where two men were reported missing after fishing in the seawaters off Barangay Tuyom.
PO1 Meyquil Mingay of the Carcar City Police Station identified them as Ruben Plarisa, 44, and Jessie Alcover, 32.
Their neighbor Feliciano Tamayo, 57, reported to the police past 9 a.m. that the duo failed to return to shore after setting out to sea at 3:30 a.m. in a blue pump boat.
“Kusog kaayo diri ang hangin ug uwan. Tungod siguro ni sa low pressure area (The winds are strong and the rainfall is heavy, perhaps because of the low pressure area),” Mingay told Sun.Star Cebu.
He said that as of 6 p.m., they still haven’t received information from the fishermen’s relatives if they were found.
“Nabalaka na sila kay dugay ra kaayo sila sa lawod (They are worried because the two have been gone too long),” Mingay said.
The state weather bureau spotted the center of Tropical Storm Auring at 110 kilometers south of Puerto Princesa City as of 10 p.m. Thursday. (EOB/DSM of Sun.Star Cebu/Sunnex)