(M/V Baleno 9 update, as of 5 p.m.) Death count in Batangas sea tragedy rises to six

December 27, 2009 11:59 pm 

MANILA, Dec. 27 –The number of fatalities in the sinking of M/V Baleno 9, an inter-island ferry, off San Agapito, Verde Island, Batangas on Saturday night rose to six as government authorities continued their search for the missing 20 other passengers.

As of 4 p.m Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recorded six casualties, 20 missing and 62 survivors. The names and gender of the fatalities were not yet available.

Transportations and Communications (DOTC) Secretary Leandro Mendoza on Sunday directed the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to immediately suspend the operations of all remaining vessels of Besta Shipping Lines.

Besta ,which owns the ill-fated M/V Baleno -9 has five ro-ro vessels serving Oriental Mindoro and Batangas routes.

Mendoza also ordered the conduct of safety systems audit for all merchant vessels nationwide to include operators and crew.

He also directed the performance audit of government vessel safety regulatory agencies.

Ships and planes from the PCG, the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Air Force continue their search and rescue operations for the unaccounted passengers of MV Baleno -9, which has a passenger capacity of up to 284 people.

Six Coast Guard rescue ships (BRP Nueva Vizcaya, BRP Romblon, MCS 3010, DF 308, DF 310,Tug Boat MT Habagat) and an islander plane were dispatched Sunday to scour the area for more survivors.

Ambulances from the Philippine Red Cross are on standby at the Batangas port for medical assistance.

Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, PCG commandant, said that on top of the rescue operations, marine environmental protection personnel were directed to closely monitor oil spill and to prepare containment measures.

He said that the Board of Marine Inquiry, to be headed by Commodore Cecill Chen, would be convened immediately to investigate the cause of the sinking.

Initial report showed that the distressed vessel had on board 14 crew and 74 passengers (for a total of 88 persons on board) and nine rolling cargoes at the time of the incident.

MV Baleno – 9 owned and operated by Pedro Ang of Besta Shipping Lines departed Calapan Pier at 9:30 p.m. Saturday enroute to Batangas.

While underway, the vessel reportedly listed and sank at 10:20 p.m. Saturday off San Agapito Verde Island passage in Batangas.

Report said M/V Reyna Delos Angeles of Montenegro Shipping and M/V Baleno-3, which were close to the scene of the incident initiated search and rescue operations while Coast Guard District Southern Tagalog immediately dispatched SARV-3504 and two craft (DF 308 and DF 310) for the conduct of search and rescue operations.

Initial inquiry from the survivors of the mishap disclosed that the vessel took in water coming from the bow ramp and severely affected the stability of the vessel causing her to badly list and eventually sank while traversing the area of Verde island passage. (PNA) RMA/JES


Comments are closed.