All passengers brought ashore

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Saturday, January 25, 2014


SOME 170 passengers were rescued before Thursday midnight after a fast craft ran aground off Lauis Ledge in Talisay City, Cebu.

Commander Rodolfo Villajuan of Philippine Coast Guard Cebu Station said the master of mv Weesam Express 7 also submitted a marine protest yesterday.

A marine protest is a narration of what happened before, during and after an incident. Its purpose is to protect the ship’s owner from liability.

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The skipper said big waves and strong winds forced the vessel to a shallow area.

In a related incident, the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina) 7 suspended the passenger safety certificate of mv Weesam Express 7 following the incident.

Atty. Jose Cabatingan, legal officer of Marina 7, who was interviewed over Balitang Bisdak yesterday afternoon, said there is a need to thoroughly inspect the vessel for dents or cracks after it hit the sea bed because of shallow waters.

Hull integrity

“Marina will require an underground survey. I-check ang integrity sa hull kung wa bay guba (Check the hull’s integrity to determine if there was any damage),” Cabatingan said.

In a separate interview, Villajuan told Sun.Star Cebu that all passengers were brought to safety in the port of Cebu around 10:45 p.m. No one was hurt.

He also denied they didn’t respond immediately, amid some passengers’ complaints of a slow response.

He said they received the call at 6:40 p.m. and quickly dispatched a rescue unit.

Villajuan said the first batch of rescued passengers arrived at 9:45 p.m. and the next batch was brought by mv Weesam Express 8. It took them more than two hours to bring all the passengers to safety.

One of the passengers, Jasper Bayadog, said they left Ormoc City before 4 p.m. They were supposed to leave at 1:30 p.m. but they were delayed because of bad weather.

At sea, big waves started to pound the vessel, alarming many passengers, said Bayadog, a disc jockey of RMN Tacloban.

Changing fortunes

As they approached Cebu, the sea calmed. “Lipay kaayo mi kay grabe gyud ‘to among naagian (We were very relieved after what we went through),” he said.

Suddenly, they were shakened when the fast craft ran aground. He said it felt like
being on a speeding car that came to a full stop.

Many passengers panicked and were confused. “We got delayed, then encountered rough seas and now this,” Bayadog said.

Bayadog said the crew didn’t tell them what happened so everyone became agitated and restless. They also didn’t see the skipper, he said.

“Instead, the crew gave us all of their snacks from their canteen as consolation,” he said.

Bayadog also said he heard from the crew that the global positioning system of the fast craft malfunctioned.

“So, if we are to consider that, we’re traveling blind and is at risk of collision,” he said.

Bayadog was with his family for a post-Sinulog visit. They were not able to attend the festivities due to the bad weather last week.

Another passenger, Felipe Eurejas, a layout artist of a newspaper in Leyte, was with his wife. They came to Cebu to attend the Hubo mass of Señor Sto. Niño yesterday.

“Nagbinirahay na sa mga (We started grabbing) life jackets. Paglapas sa (When we passed) Camotes Island, dagko na ang mga bawod (the waves were really big),” Eurejas told radio dySS.

The accident occurred near Lauis Ledge in Talisay City, where several vessels had run aground, including a passenger ship that sank last year. DSM/With a report from SCG of Superbalita

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on January 25, 2014.

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