Collision notes-A A +A
Tuesday, August 27, 2013
WHATEVER else needs to be said about the sea tragedy that hit this island province more than a week ago has already been said but to ascertain whose fault it was that had caused so much death and suffering.
Up to this moment, authorities have yet to come up with a definite report that pinpoints the blame to any of the the ill-starred vessels that collided off Talisay City on August 16.
Or could the two vessels be equally at fault?
I’ve been trying to shift daily through the news. But all that I gathered during the first few days were about the survivors, the death count, and the missing.
As for the photos of survivors and the survivors’ reports of loved ones lost, the initial tales and portraits were those of suffering. But what might have really happened is too difficult to portray in words.
From the stories reported in print, I gathered that the 2Go group that owns the St. Thomas Aquinas went about its responsibility for the passengers by answering the hospitalization expenses of the injured, and the burial cost for the passengers that downed.
Apparently, Sulpicio Express Siete of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp. did not share with the cost because it did not suffer any loss of life.
But the real question that seems to occupy the public mind up to now is: Whose fault was it?
Well, the issue is what has been occupying the authorities that are investigating the accident. In Saturday and yesterday’s issue of this daily, and based on the so-called testimonies of witnesses among the surviving passengers-turned witnesses, including officials and crew of both ships, there emerged certain facts that the probers from the government may be able to use.
For one who does not have any background on the shipping industry, I can only gather some parts and impressions from the published reports.
There was that one, for instance, about the cargo boat Sulpicio Express Siete having occupied the inbound lane together with St. Thomas, instead of the outgoing lane, which means, to my mind, that the cargo vessel was moving in the same direction as the St. Thomas when it should have gone to the opposite way.
And then there was the fact of their means of communication. There was something else about the use of whistle. The rule, it is said, is that when a vessel would like to overtake another ship, it should whistle a number of times instead of just signal.
This time, the cargo boat did not do so, which was wrong, according to a witness to
the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI), which is supposed to continue its investigation on August 28 in Cebu.
In any case, the accident has generated talks among the superstitious and curious observers of the nation’s shipping industry. A business man who sat with me in a passenger bus terminal while I was waiting for a ride the other day said the name Sulpicio seems to have always been involved in sea accidents, in boat-sinking during typhoons or some other sea disasters. He said there must be something to the name.
I truly do not wish to say anything about that. But there must be something to it.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 27, 2013.