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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Coast Guard: Capsized boat not meant for passengers

THE motorbanca that sank off the coast of Camotes Island that resulted in the deaths of two people was found to be not registered as a passenger vessel, an official of the Coast Guard (CG) said yesterday.

Three children who were among the 34 passengers and crew onboard MB Habagat Romeo were still missing yesterday.

Aside from the CG, local officials and emergency responders of San Francisco are conducting search and rescue operations.

In an interview yesterday, Petty Officer Second Class Rodulf Alain Benolarao of the CG Cebu station said that based on their follow-up investigation, the MB Habagat Romeo was not registered and was considered a colorum vessel.

Benolarao said the vessel was only for private use for a certain Rene Misa of Barangay Maribago, Carmen town.

Despite being an unregistered vessel, MB Habagat Romeo reportedly took in passengers before it left Carmen town for Camotes, Benolerao said.

In an ABS-CBN TV Patrol Central Visayas report yesterday, Romar Hermosilla, the motorbanca’s skipper, admitted their vessel was not meant to take in passengers.

He also admitted that the vessel was overloaded at the time of the sinking as it can only take up to 29 passengers.

But Benolarao said they can’t determine a violation against Misa and Hermosilla until a formal investigation takes place.

As of yesterday, CG officials are still conducting search and rescue operations for the three children.

The missing minors are Carel Palomar, 9; Andie de Leon, 2; and Kiven Gonzaga, 4.

Petty Officer 1 Leonardo Cos of the CG-Camotes Island detachment said that two divers from their unit conducted search and rescue operations yesterday morning in Tulang Point, where MB Habagat Romeo capsized.

They suspended the search and rescue operations yesterday noon due to strong waves.

In a separate interview, Rosalinda Serion, San Francisco municipal disaster risk reduction and management officer, told reporters that emergency responders, along with the local police, are assisting the PCG in the search and rescue operations.

Serion said that aside from searching in the site where the motorbanca sank, they have included the coastline of their town.

She also advised residents of Camotes Island and tourists who plan to go there to avoid riding illegitimate modes of transportation to avoid similar accidents. (JKV)
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