Cebu collision toll now 55

CEBU CITY - Age of sea vessels was mentioned as a main factor in sea accidents where the latest that occurred last Friday left 55 dead - 51 passengers and four crew - and 65 still missing - 59 passengers and six crew - as of yesterday.

As a consequence of the collision with a cargo vessel, MV Sulpicio Express Siete, and eventual sinking of the MV St. Thomas Aquinas, the entire province of Cebu was placed in a state of calamity following an oil spill affected more than 3,000 hectares of the sea waters and contaminated a 400-hectare mangrove plantation in the coastal towns of Cordova in Mactan Island.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III said the state of calamity was announced. Calamity funds will be released by the affected towns and areas.

Lawmakers at Batasan did not waste time to call for a special congressional inquiry on this incident as they strongly proposed the rolling of heads both in concerned government agencies for "ineptitude and lack of concern" and from shipping firms for implementing safety-at-sea measures.

St. Thomas is owned by 2GO Shipping while Sulpicio Express is a Philippine Span Asia (formerly Sulpicio Lines) vessel.

11 Towns Affected

As of 11 a.m. yesterday, the latest advisory showed that PCG has rescued 750 passengers in the vicinity of Lawis Ledge off Talisay City where search and rescue operations are ongoing.

Cdr. Armand Balilo, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said that yesterday, 10 more bodies were recovered by divers who were faced with difficulty as they faced the challenge of spilt oil, a cargo of the St. Thomas.

The ferry was carrying 20 tons of diesel and 120 tons of bunker fuel when it collided with Sulpicio Express Friday night. The passenger ship was well under water within 30 minutes' time.

"Eleven coastal barangays are now affected by an oil spill and a team is assessing the extent of the oil spill in the area," Balilo said. Its shorelines were drenched in thick sludge.

Lax Regulations

At the Batasan, Quezon City Rep. Winston Castelo demanded the immediate suspension, revocation or cancellation of the license of Sulpicio Express 7, presumed as the erring vessel in the collision.

But Kabataan Partylist Rep. Terry Ridon said that both Marina Administrator Maximo Mejia Jr. and Philippine Coast Guard Commander Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena will have to be held answerable for the Talisay sea collision that resulted in the death of 38 persons.

Last June, two persons died after MV Mt. Carmel owned by Medallion Shipping Lines sank off Burias Island.

"It is ironic for an archipelago like the Philippines to have lax water transport regulations. It is time for Congress to look into this issue to prevent future disasters of even greater magnitude," Ridon said.

Decrepit Vessels

Ridon said both the PCG and Marina should explain why it allowed sea vessels above 40 years to sail, saying that a ship's maximum life span is only 25 years.

"The fact that we are allowing 40-year old ferries like MV St. Thomas Aquinas tells us that something is amiss in the supervision and regulation of water transport vessels in the country. A rigorous review of MARINA's performance as a regulatory body is in order," Ridon said.

Castelo, chairman of the House Committee on Metro Manila Development, said Marina, the regulator agency for shipping, must conduct a parallel management review of the shipping firms involved in the latest sea mishap.

Chemical Dispersant

Twelve PCG divers from Manila and MEPU (Marine Environmental Protection Unit) teams were also focused on marine environmental damage this incident could bring.

Almost immediately, the PCG placed oil spill booms and applied chemical dispersant even as they were faced with the challenge that the slick spread fast in the waters.

Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., PCG vice commandant for operations, said that because of its depth underwater, PCG vessels' anchors can only be lowered to 100 feet. The depth of the sunken vessel must be approximately 108 feet.

PCG divers were also conducting underwater search for the leak in the ship to plug, mitigate further and contain the oil spill.

Parallel Probes, Checks

Coast Guard authorities were set to convene the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI), also headed by Tuason, to investigate this tragic collision.

Both the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) and PCG will conduct parallel probes.

Tuason confirmed that the vessels' two captains and some crew members will be summoned.

While, normally, the other fleet members of a shipping firm are grounded, 2GO's MV St. Anthony de Padua and MV St. John Paul were allowed to sail.

Philippine Span Asia's MV Princess and MV Span Asia were likewise cleared of deficiencies for sailing by MARINA. (With a report from AFP)

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Noy leaves for US
    Noy leaves for US

    President Aquino leaves today for the United States to begin his three-day North American trip that will culminate in a state visit to Canada. The President departs at 8 a.m. on a chartered Philippines Airlines flight to Chicago for a one-day working visit. From Chicago, the President will proceed to Canada where he and Prime Minister Stephen Harper will witness the signing of bilateral agreements on labor cooperation, development assistance and infrastructure development. Canada is home to …

  • China accuses Phl of violating South China Sea Code
    China accuses Phl of violating South China Sea Code

    China has accused the Philippines of violating a 13-year-old informal code of conduct in the South China Sea with its building work on disputed islets, firing back again after repeated criticism of China’s own construction work. China and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed an agreement in 2002 to refrain from occupying uninhabited reefs and shoals in the sea, and from building new structures that would complicate disputes. In a statement released just before …

  • Noul to bring stormy weather to central, northern Luzon
    Noul to bring stormy weather to central, northern Luzon

    Tropical storm  Noul  (international name) will bring stormy weather to the eastern section of Central and Northern Luzon this weekend, as it slightly gained strength and moved westward toward the Philippine area of responsibility yesterday. Rene Paciente, Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) senior weather forecaster, said the eastern section of Central and Northern Luzon, including Aurora, Isabela and Cagayan, may experience rains with gusty …

  • House asked to allocate P500-M legal aid for OFWs
    House asked to allocate P500-M legal aid for OFWs

    The House of Representatives was asked yesterday to appropriate P500 million for legal assistance for distressed overseas Filipino workers (OFWs). Reprieved death convict Mary Jane Veloso mirrors the tragedy of many OFWs in search of better job opportunities abroad “who become victims of human and drug trafficking and other forms of exploitation,” according to Bill 5704 that the seven-member Makabayan bloc of lawmakers had filed. The lawmakers said Veloso’s family claims that they were not …

  • World’s best place to be a mom: Norway is tops; Phl 105th
    World’s best place to be a mom: Norway is tops; Phl 105th

    Norway ranks as the world’s best place to be a mother, well ahead of the United States, which dropped to the 33rd spot in the annual scorecard released by Save the Children on Monday. Somalia is the worst place, just below the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic. The Philippines placed 105th out of 179 countries, but the Save the Children report, which profiled Metro Manila among other cities, said that the National Capital Region has done better than most megacities …

  • Philippines' largest telco sees costly, painful fight
    Philippines' largest telco sees costly, painful fight

    Philippine Long Distance Telephone, the country's largest telecommunications firm, said Tuesday it expects to spend nearly $1 billion in a "painful" fight to survive the consumer shift to digital from traditional phone services. The listed company said net profit for the first three months of the year was flat at 9.4 billion pesos ($211 million), and the full-year net profit would likely fall below the 34.1 billion pesos it posted last year. "It's either we pivot or we perish," PLDT chairman …

  • China says Philippines violating South China Sea code

    China has accused the Philippines of violating a 13-year-old informal code of conduct in the South China Sea with its building work on disputed islets, firing back again after repeated criticism of China's own construction work. China and the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) signed an agreement in 2002 to refrain from occupying uninhabited reefs and shoals in the sea, and from building new structures that would complicate disputes. In a statement just before midnight …

  • Mineski’s 2015 SEA grand finals to be held in Malaysia

    Twelve teams from seven countries will be participating in this year’s Mineski Pro-Gaming League South-East Asian Grand Finals (MPGL7 SEA Grand Finals), set to take place from May 9-10. For the first time, the finals will be held outside of the Philippines, instead taking place in Selangor, Malaysia as part of the 2015 Selangor Cyber Games. “The decision to move the grand finals from PH to Malaysia came into mind last year, right after the Season 6 grand finals,” said Marlon Marcelo, …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options