Marina suspends fleet of shipping firms in Cebu sea mishap-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
MANILA (Updated) -- The Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) suspended Saturday the fleet of 2GO Group and Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. (known formerly as Sulpicio Lines Inc.) after two of their vessels collided off Lawis Ledge in Cebu Friday evening.
Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia Jr. said this is on top of an inspection on the vessels of the two firms.
He said the order for an immediate inspection should "be reinforced by a suspension order on all the ships belonging to these two companies."
On Friday night, 2GO's M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas 1 collided with Philippine Span Asia's M/V Sulpicio Express 7.
Mejia said their initial check of the documents of the two companies showed no sign of problems with the vessels' structural integrity. The passenger vessel that sank after collision was inspected last month.
Marina is looking into possible human error as the cause of the collision that killed at least 40 people.
The agency has sent investigators to Cebu to conduct interviews on the skippers of the two vessels.
Marina issued a show cause order to operators of both vessels to answer within 72 hours why their operations should not be suspended.
Two separate probes will be conducted by Marina and the special board of marine inquiry to determine liabilities and find out what really transpired on Friday night that led to the fatal collision.
Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya said search and rescue operation onsite have been halted on Saturday afternoon due to bad weather.
But Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena of the Philippine Coast Guard assured that technical divers will return to the sea Sunday morning.
Malacanang vowed Saturday to get into the bottom of the collision of the two ships off Cebu on Friday to determine who was at fault.
"Since it is a maritime accident, that has to be determined who is at fault," deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte she said in an interview over dzRB Radyo ng Bayan.
Valte refused to comment on observation that Sulpicio Lines vessels apparently were usually figured out in maritime accidents.
"We are aware of the previous other accidents. However, at this point, we don't want to give any comment, it's better to wait first for the result of the investigation because we don't want to be accused that there's color on our comments," she said.
Apart from the relief assistance being extended by 2Go Group, owner of St. Thomas, Valte said that the government is also prepared to extend assistance to the victims.
As of the moment, she said the shipping company has extended temporary shelters, hot meals, and medical assistance to the survivors. Other survivors were also being given accommodation while the situation is being sorted out, she added.
Different concerned government agencies and search and rescue assets were working together as a response to the accident, Valte said.
Among the agencies involved in the search and rescue efforts include the Philippine Coast Guard, Bureau of Fire Protection, the AFP Search and Rescue Group, and the LGU disaster volunteers, she said.
The Department of Health (DOH) and the All Terrain Medical and Relief Organization were also cooperating to lend their expertise, she added. (JK/SDR/Sunnex)