Close call for 2Go liner

Iloilo City, Iloilo (PNA) - Nearly 360 passengers on board 2Go Shipping Lines passenger vessel St. Gregory The Great were spared from a near-sea disaster as the ship almost capsized after seawater rushed in through a hole in its hull while in Iloilo Strait Saturday morning.

The passenger liner safely reached Arrastre Port in Fort San Pedro, Iloilo City despite water submerging its engine compartment after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) here rushed to its aid.

PCG Iloilo Commander Lt. Cdr. Dominador Senador III said that based on their questioning ship captain Gregory Diamante, the near- disaster happened 3:00 o'clock early Saturday morning.

The ship was sailing in the vicinity of Siete Picados islets on the Iloilo Strait which is an estimated seven nautical miles away from Iloilo City when the vessel suddenly vibrated then jolted, after which the crew saw water flowing into the ship's engine compartment, reaching to almost two meters high.

The crew immediately radioed the PCG for help. The latter immediately responded by rushing to the area along with two tugboats that towed the passenger ship safely towards the Iloilo arrastre port.

Iloilo PCG authorities are now conducting an investigation to determine the cause of the incident.

Theoretically, the ship might have hit a rock underwater while navigating through a shallow portion of the Iloilo Strait, causing a hole at the ship's hull through which seawater entered into the engine compartment.

Passengers started to panic upon seeing the ship crew distributing life jackets, but aside from that, no one was reported hurt.

The vessel came from Manila and was passing through BREDCO port in Bacolod City before heading for Iloilo City and on to Cagayan De Oro when the incident happened.

The PCG here was hailed for its quick response without which the vessel might have sunk and lives lost.

At present, the vessel is docked at the Iloilo arrastre port for repair while the shipping firm's management made assurances to help passengers stranded at the Iloilo City port.