32 dead, 751 survivors; search for 58 to resume-A A +A
Sunday, August 18, 2013
THE number of people who died after two vessels collided off Talisay City last Friday night rose yesterday to 32, nearly all of them passengers.
At least 751 survived the accident.
Bad weather forced the authorities to call off the search yesterday, but they hope to resume operations today. Fifty-eight persons remain missing.
Lito Salvio, assistant vice president of the 2GO Group, said that as of 5 p.m. yesterday, 32 passengers were confirmed dead, 30 of them passengers and two of them from the crew.
The company owns the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, which collided with the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express 7 of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. past 9 p.m. last Friday. (Main story, A1)
In a command conference called by Mayor Michael Rama at Cebu City Hall yesterday, Salvio assured that the company will give financial assistance to the families of those who died.
For the survivors, Salvio said the company will cover their medical expenses, travel expenses to Manila and the hotel accommodations of those who are still in Cebu.
The initial report is that no one from the Sulpicio Express 7’s crew was killed or injured, but the authorities couldn’t confirm just how many were on board when the accident happened.
Of the 32 who died, 19 were female and 13, male. Two were children. Their bodies were brought to the Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes on Junquera St., Cebu City.
That’s where Jun Elmar Butao, 11, broke down when he found the body of his mother Lolita, 52.
They had left Butuan to move to Lapu-Lapu City.
During the collision, Jun Elmar and his mother jumped overboard, but they got separated at sea. He suffered a cut in his right foot.
Apart from Lolita, 15 of the dead were already identified.
Based on the records of Cosmopolitan Funeral Homes, they are Hilario Maligro (53), Domingo Anomat (67), Necito Ancla, Teogenes Jabines (69),
Alfonso Camanzo, Jonathan Cabural, Romulo Escropolo, Armida Manalon, Artemia Bunotan (58), Evelyn Calipano Caro (53), Vicente Ancla Jr. (74),
Cresencia Colipano (73), Antonio Abrutante (75), Nilen Menia Manoza (crew) and Julius Flores (crew).
Camanzo, Cabural and Escropolo were identified through the identification cards recovered from their possession.
Escropolo’s friend, 77-year-old Cesar Comendador, was among the survivors. They were traveling to Manila to attend a religious conference. (See related story, A2)
Fifty of those who were rescued were brought to five hospitals in Cebu City: 21 are in Chong Hua Hospital, 10 in Perpetual Succour Hospital, eight in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, 10 in Cebu City Medical Center and one in Velez Hospital.
Commander Weniel Azcuna of the Coast Guard-Cebu Station said the Navy has deployed two Huey helicopters so they can extend and widen the search and rescue operation.
Technical divers from the Philippine Navy also arrived at 2 p.m. yesterday.
Volunteer divers from Malapascua, who helped in the retrieval of the body of former Cabinet Secretary Jesse Robredo this time last year, will also extend their services.
“The technical divers would really help because they have a longer bottom time than our regular divers. The regular divers can dive for only 10 minutes at a time,” said Azcuna.
Azcuna said the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas lies 100 to 120 feet from the surface.
The technical divers were scheduled to go to the site where the vessel sank early this morning.
The Coast Guard, Azcuna added, has also tapped Malayan Towage to contain any oil spill. Records from 2GO show that it carried 20 tons of diesel and 120 tons of bunker fuel.
“They have the necessary equipment to properly contain the oil,” he said.
Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella asked the Coast Guard to keep searching for the 58 persons who may still be at sea.
Labella, who survived the 1998 sinking of Sulpicio Lines’ Princess of the Orient, said there is still a big chance of finding survivors.
“I had been floating for 36 hours in high seas (when the rescuers arrived), while this accident is near the coast,” he said.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 18, 2013.