No leaks from sunken vessel: Trans-Asia-A A +A
Monday, August 1, 2011
CEBU CITY -- Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. allayed fears of an oil spill in the vicinity of Calabasa Island in Iloilo and assured there are no signs that fuel may be leaking from the M/V Asia-Malaysia.
Kenneth Sy, president and general manager of Trans-Asia, also said the shipping company has attended to the needs of the passengers who were rescued shortly before the vessel sank last Sunday morning.
However, any claim for damages will still have to be evaluated.
The shipping company responded Monday to the concerns of the municipality of Ajuy, Iloilo on the possibility of an oil leak from the sunken vessel's tanks.
In a press statement sent to Sun.Star Cebu, Trans-Asia confirmed the vessel has around 7,700 liters of automotive diesel oil, around 1,300 liters of lube oil and around 18,000 liters of special fuel oil.
"The company has also engaged PCLK Mercantile and Services, a highly experienced professional salvage company from Cebu, to inspect the vessel so that whatever necessary precaution to avoid escape of oil can be taken," the management's statement read.
Sy also said they are now working on the immediate removal of the vessel.
All 107 passengers and 44 crew members and ancillary employees on board M/V Malaysia were rescued shortly before the vessel sank between Guimaras and Bacolod last Sunday morning.
The management's assurance came after some of the passengers complained about how they were treated throughout their ordeal at sea.
"Actually, daghan nagyawyaw, daghan nagreklamo (Many passengers grumbled and complained)," Rodel Cabalejo said in a radio dyHP interview.
"When we asked them whether they will pay us for the damages, they just told us to wait," he said in Cebuano. "I think they did not understand us. We almost died, but it seemed they did not care for us. They should pay us," he said.
Act of God
Cabalejo, who works in Dubai, said he arrived in Iloilo around 2 p.m. last Sunday. He said he is not sure if he can attend the marine inquiry on the incident because he has to travel back to the Middle East this month.
Romualdo Geraldizo, the captain of the sunken vessel, filed Monday a marine protest with the Philippine Coast Guard and said the sinking of the vessel was a case of "force majeure" (an act of God), and so the officers and crew cannot be blamed for the accident.
Geraldizo said the vessel left Cebu City for Iloilo with complete navigational equipment and manned by experienced officers and crew.
The vessel departed at 6:30 p.m. from the Cebu City port last July 30 after it was inspected and cleared by the Coast Guard Cebu District.
The captain narrated that the vessel navigated without any difficulty until around 3:50 a.m. on Sunday, July 31, when they met strong winds (southwest monsoon) and big waves at Buyong Point near Calabasa Island.
Geraldizo said that several minutes after M/V Asia-Malaysia was hit by big waves, the ship tilted to its side. This was followed by the collapse of the cargoes to the starboard (right) side.
He said he immediately sent distress calls and the officers and crew helped the passengers wear their life jacket.
At 4:40 a.m., he said the engine stopped running and the seawaters entered the side door of the vessel. It was at this point that he ordered the crew to prepare the life rafts while waiting for rescue.
M/V Filipinas Cebu of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, which was also bound for Iloilo, and water tanker M/V Phil Visayas arrived and rescued them at 6:30 a.m.
Geraldizo said he was the last to disembark to transfer to a motor boat at 8:20 a.m. M/V Asia-Malaysia sank at 8:35 a.m.
In a phone interview last Sunday, another passenger, Analiza Masamot, also recounted to Sun.Star Cebu her ordeal, saying that none of Trans Asia's crew members guided them on what to do, and no one explained to them what was going on.
Although it's the Philippine Coast Guard office in Iloilo that's investigating the sea mishap, Commander Rolando Punzalan of the Coast Guard-Cebu said they are also collating data such as the master's oath of safe departure by the ship captain, condition of the life and safety equipment, condition of the vessel, passenger manifest and cargo manifest.
Radio dyLA reported Monday that while there were 107 passengers on the manifest, there were a total of 134 survivors.
But lawyer Dexter Viñan, legal counsel of Trans Asia, said the figures will not be an issue because the vessel's number of passengers was way below the authorized capacity of 551 passengers.
For its part, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) Central Visayas Monday said the M/V Asia-Malaysia is presumed seaworthy because it had a valid Passenger Ship Safety Certificate (PSSC) when it departed the port in Cebu City.
Lawyer Jose Cabatingan, Marina-Central public information officer, said the PSSC was issued by his agency upon Trans Asia's compliance with the rules, as stated in the Ship Safety Inspection System Manual.
The vessel was registered with Marina in Central Visayas, which issued the Certificate of Ownership.
Cabatingan said that Marina-Central Visayas can also conduct its own full investigation on the sea mishap as provided for in Administrative Order (AO) 13-10, which created the Maritime Crisis Management Committee (MCMC).
"This MCMC was created to assume responsibility of the crisis situation involving any type of maritime incidents regardless of the type and size of the vessel," Cabatingan said. (EOB/KAL/Sun.Star Cebu)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 02, 2011.