One Dead, Six Missing After Two Cargo Ships Sink off Philippines

M/V Virgina 1; Image Courtesy: PCG

One crewman died and six have been reported as missing following the sinking of two cargo vessels off the Philippines on Tuesday, January 17, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reports.

The first vessel, M/V Virgina 1, was en route to Roxas, Palawan from Delpan Pier, Binondo, Manila with eleven crew onboard, when it sank after catching fire in the waters southwest of Caballo Island, approximately eight nautical miles from Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas on January 17, 2017.

Investigation to the survivors including the master of the vessel revealed that on January 17 at 1 AM local time, one of the crew suddenly noticed a fire coming from the purser’s cabin which is adjacent to the smoke stack of the vessel. All the crew tried to combat the fire but were unsuccessful. It continuously spread on the main deck and reached the mid-ship of the vessel where combustible cargoes were stored, PCG said.

The master ordered the crew to abandon ship at 2 AM local time. Six crew boarded a life raft while five others were able to board a life boat.

At 3 AM, the lifeboat with 5 survivors capsized due to strong winds and big waves. They managed to cling to the boat, however, one of them, identified as Sonny Ruado, died due to severe exhaustion at 6 AM, PCG said. At 7 AM, the survivors decided to leave the dead body of Ruado with an empty plastic container tied around his body to serve as floater at vicinity waters 12 nm away from Corregidor Island.

At 9:15 AM, they were rescued by a passing fisherman in waters between La monja and Fortune Island.

At 2:30 PM, CGSS Nasugbu informed CGS BATAAN that one of the crew, Angelo Gambol, a Quarter Master, was rescued by a fisherman at Bogiw Island, near Brgy Papaya, Nasugbu Batangas.

According to Gambol, immediately after the skipper ordered the ship to be abandoned, the crew were divided into two groups. Gambol together with five other crew proceeded to the forecastle deck and lowered the life raft. He was accidentally left behind as he slipped out when it was his turn to board the raft. The remaining five men on the life raft are still missing.

The second cargo vessel, M/V Meridian Tres, was reported sinking at the vicinity of Sto Niño Dive Site, Bohol around 9:25 PM local time, January 17.

M/V Lorcon Iloilo reported the incident to Coast Guard Sub Sub-station Hilongos.

As of 9:45 pm, a total of twenty-eight crew were rescued and one was still missing. The missing person was later identified as Benjamen Orola, the Chief Operator 2 of the vessel.

Investigation revealed M/V Meridian Tres departed Cebu City port enroute to Tacloban City with 29 crew onboard including the captain of the vessel while navigating at Sto Niño Dive Site, Bohol, the vessel was battered by strong winds and big waves prevailing in the area causing the stock pile of one hundred twenty six units of twenty footer container vans and five units of ten footer container vans of assorted goods to collapse and the port side of the said vessel listed 40 degrees.

Around 10 PM local time, the vessel submerged at the vicinity near Sto Niño Dive Site, Bohol.

Coast Guard team advised all vessels transiting in the area to be on look-out of the missing man and render necessary assistance and report to the nearest Coast Guard Station if sighted.

M/V Meridian Tres is a cargo vessel skippered by Capt Napoleon Emphasis, owned and operated by Meridian Cargoes Forwarder Incorporation.

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