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Saturday, September 21, 2019

Ship nearly capsizes in Iloilo Strait; passengers safe

ILOILO CITY -- The almost 360 passengers aboard the St. Gregory The Great of the 2GO shipping lines were spared from near sea disaster as the ship nearly capsized after it suffered a hole in its hull while navigating Iloilo Strait Saturday morning.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the ill-fated passenger liner safely reached Arrastre Port in Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City despite the water that submerged its engine compartment.

PCG Iloilo Commander Lt. Cdr. Dominador Senador III said based on their initial investigation with ship captain Gregory Diamante, the near disaster happened 3 a.m. Saturday.

The ship was sailing the Iloilo Strait in the vicinity of the Siete Picados islets or an estimated seven nautical miles away from Iloilo City when the vessel vibrated or jolted after which, the crew felt the onrushing water entering the engine compartment that reached to almost two meters in height.

The crew asked the help of the PCG which immediately responded to the area along with two tugboats that towed the passenger ship safely towards Iloilo Arrastre port early Saturday morning.

PCG is presently conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

Authorities theorized that the vessel may have hit hard rock under the water while navigating the shallow portion of the Iloilo Strait causing damage to the ship’s hull that later saw water entering the engine compartment.

No one was reported hurt or injured during the incident apart from the sudden panic that gripped passengers aboard after seeing the ship crew who started to distribute life jackets to them.

The St. Gregory The Great came from Metro Manila passing BREDCO port in Bacolod City before going to Iloilo City on its way to Cagayan De Oro when the sea-going was caught in near disaster.

The ship is now docked at the Iloilo arrastre port for proper repair of its damaged while the management of the shipping firm also assured to help passengers who were stranded in the port of Iloilo City.

In 2011, a vessel of Trans-Asia Shipping Lines Inc. that traveled Cebu and Iloilo capsized, less than two hours after it sent a distress call amid rough waves and strong winds.

The incident happened after big waves and strong winds hit the 2,400-ton vessel while cruising the vicinity of Calabasa Island off the coast of Ajuy town, Iloilo, or about 33 nautical miles from Iloilo City.

Everyone on board was rescued, including a 10-month-old baby and Eufemia Abonales, at 70 the oldest of the ship’s passengers. The official PCG report said 168 were aboard the vessel. (PNA/Sunnex)
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