A PUMP boat carrying 14 passengers and crew capsized off Barangay Punta Engaño in Lapu-Lapu City yesterday afternoon after strong winds and waves battered the boat.
There were no injuries or casualties reported, Police Officer 1 Marlou Bretania of the Mactan Police Station said.
The 11 passengers and three crew members were heading home to Olango Island at 2:05 p.m. when the engine of the Nathan Express manned by Captain Freddie Sanchez Igot conked out.
Around the same time, big waves and gusts pushed a cargo ship and some pump boats toward a concrete sea wall in Poblacion, City of Naga.
The m/v Unilink II hit concrete piles that had been driven into the water to support the City’s boardwalk project, and the ship’s bow hit the wall. Only the ship’s stern or rear remained in the water.
Various areas in Metro Cebu were affected by straight-line winds that were brought by thunderstorm clouds, a weather official said yesterday.
Engr. Al Quiblat, acting chief weather specialist of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Mactan office, clarified that the sudden strong winds that hit Cebu at 2 p.m. yesterday were not caused by the presence of a tornado but by straight-line winds, locally known as “unos.”
In the Lapu-Lapu City accident, its engine stopped shortly after the boat left the Hilton wharf. As a result, Bretania said that Igot lost control of the boat while he was maneuvering it.
The boat, which was about five meters away from the shore, was hit by big waves and because the wind was strong, water got inside the boat, causing it to capsize.
“Kusog gyud kaayo ang hangin ug dako ang bawod. Naghinay-hinay ug sulod ang tubig mao tong nitikyaob ang pump boat. Ug wala unta to namatay ang makina, maka-maneuver ra unta to. Dili to masudlan ug tubig (Water got inside the boat because of the strong wind and waves, that’s why it tilted to its side before it capsized. If the engine hadn’t conked out, the captain would have been able to maneuver it),” the policeman said.
Bretania added that the passengers were lucky it happened while they were still close to the shore.
“They were only about five meters from the wharf and they were still in chest-deep waters, so the passengers were able to swim to shore,” he said.
The police estimated the damage to the pump boat at P400,000.
Pagasa’s Quiblat explained that straight line winds often occur if there are thunderstorm clouds present.
The winds that hit Cebu yesterday were around 54 kilometers per hour and lasted for less than 30 minutes.
But that was long enough to cause some incidents. A cargo vessel docked in the City of Naga got stranded.
Commander Agapito Bibat, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cebu station chief, told Sun.Star Cebu that at 2:15 p.m., the MV Unilink 2 was accidentally stranded in the city’s baywalk area.
Bibat said that the vessel was waiting to be filled with cargo when the strong winds moved it.
No one was hurt or killed, Bibat added.
Quiblat said the thunderstorm clouds seen in Cebu yesterday also brought light to moderate rain showers. Straight line winds are expected to hit Cebu in the coming days.
In Naga yesterday, Chief Petty Officer Marcelo Panaginip of the Coast Guard Station confirmed that the Unilink II was waiting for its cargo from a cement factory when the accident happened.
The vessel weighs 222.56 tons.
As big waves and gusts tossed pump boats about, these also pushed the cargo ship toward the sea wall of St. Francis Ocean Park around 2 p.m.
The wall was built to protect the park in Barangay East Poblacion from the waves.
Ship captain Michael Zeta is expected to file a marine protest today, said Panaginip.
At least one person was wounded when several motor bancas also hit the sea wall.
Pump boat owner Victor Pelago, 28, now has a wound that runs from his chest to his stomach after a propeller hit him.
His 51-year-old mother Jesusa said he was in a stable condition last night and had been sent home after he was treated.
Another pump boat owner, Mitz Anthony Manza, 23, said huge waves slammed 17 pump boats against the concrete embankment, badly damaging 10 of these.
“Dako ang gasto kung ayuhon, mopalit na lang mi og bag-o (It’ll cost too much to fix these so we might as well buy new ones),” he told Sun.Star Cebu.
At the scene, Danny Alperez, 24, was frantically retrieving the motor from underneath a floating pile of bamboo and wood that used to be his boat.
“Dagkong bawod di na mapugngan, kay kung akong pugngan ang akong pumpboat basin ako pay ma-damage (There was no way we could block the waves. I would have been hurt if I had tried),” he said.
Joren Castillano, 28, saved two of his three pump boats, with the help of his friends. The third craft was damaged beyond repair.
He said these boats were used to bring ship crew to and from boats anchored in deeper water.
Panaginip said that the Unilink II arrived from Mindoro at 8 p.m. last July 16 and its crew was waiting for a call from a cement factory.
Park strollers who saw what happened said that the other ships that were originally near the breakwater moved farther away after sailors saw the surging waves. But the cargo ship stayed put.
Panaginip said his team will question the ship’s crew to learn why they didn’t take any precautions during the gale. There were reports that the ship captain was not around at that time, but Panaginip said there are assistants who can handle the ship in his absence.