228 saved in Dumaguete sea mishap

‘Auring’ expected to exit Friday night


DUMAGUETE DRAMA Rescuers pull heavy ropes tied to a raft carrying passengers of the MV Zamboanga which ran aground some 50 meters away from Dumaguete City’s Rizal Boulevard on Thursday. Heavy seas spawned by Tropical Depression “Auring” forced the passenger ferry of George and Peter Lines to miss berthing at the Dumaguete pier. MELISSA ALEXANDRA PAL/INQUIRER VISAYAS

DUMAGUETE CITY—A passenger vessel ran aground Thursday after being hammered by strong winds and waves spawned by a tropical depression, but all 228 passengers—many of them students returning to this university town from the holidays—were rescued unharmed, authorities said.

“Auring,” the first weather disturbance of the year, slammed across Davao Oriental at midnight Wednesday and plodded across Northern Mindanao on its way out of the country Friday night.

Flooding sent 90 families fleeing to safer grounds in Dipolog City, said the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) in Manila. An unidentified boy gathering driftwood was swept away in a swollen river and was declared missing, according to Mayor Edgardo Timbol of Kapalong in Davao del Norte.

The MV Zamboanga Ferry of the Cebu-based George & Peter Lines arrived from Zamboanga City and was docking at the Dumaguete port about 9 a.m. when the winds blew it toward the seafront Rizal Boulevard.

Capt. Anelito Gabisan, deputy commander of the Philippine Coast Guard-Central Visayas District, said the 850-ton vessel then ran aground about 15 meters from the port.

Initial efforts to drag the boat to deeper waters to enable it to restart its engines failed after the ropes tied to a forklift broke.

It took rescuers seven hours to bring 194 adults, 11 infants and 23 children to dry land on board life rafts, Gabisan said.

Georgia Felice Chiongbian-Rama, George & Peter vice president, told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that all passengers had disembarked to safety by 4 p.m.

Many of the passengers were students of Dumaguete’s four universities who were returning from Christmas break.

The rescued passengers were given first aid at Rizal Boulevard and were brought to the passenger terminal of the Philippine Ports Authority.

“We were so afraid for our lives a while ago. Now, I can say we’re all OK,” said a grandmother from Manjuyod town who was traveling with her three grandchildren.

CPO Crispin Chiong of the Coast Guard said the ship captain, Roland Villarin, had recommended that the vessel, a roll-on roll-off ship with 14 crewmembers, wait out the storm’s fury and dock only after the winds and waves had subsided.

In a statement, Rama maintained the incident was caused by bad weather spawned by Auring.

“There is no truth to some reports that there was engine failure or that the ship ran aground, otherwise the vessel would not have been able to maneuver out of the port area,” Rama said.

Strong gusts

She said the ferry was attempting to dock at the Dumaguete port at 9 a.m. when strong gusts of wind estimated to be 34 kilometers per hour cut the mooring tiles. The winds and waves kept pushing the vessel towards the pier, she said.

To avoid collision with the pier, Villarin decided to maneuver the vessel out of the port area, Rama added.

She explained that the ferry’s captain wanted to wait until it was safe to dock.

“Unfortunately, strong winds pushed the vessel out to the Boulevard area where it is at present so we had to anchor down and quadruple-tie the vessel to Pier 6 to avoid hitting the Boulevard,” Rama said.

The low pressure area developed into a tropical storm and placed Dumaguete and the southern part of Negros island as well as Siquijor under Storm Signal No. 1 at 10 a.m.

The ferry,  built in Saiki, Japan, in 1974, is the biggest vessel in the George & Peter Lines fleet of ferries. It has a passenger capacity of a little over 700 and regularly plies the Cebu-Dumaguete-Dapitan-Zamboanga route.


Benito Ramos, NDRRMC executive director, said Auring caused Lubungan River to swell, prompting 90 families at Barangay (village) San Jose in Dipolog to evacuate.

“In some areas, the floodwaters reached neck-deep level that’s why residents were being evacuated to safer grounds,” Ramos told the Inquirer.

He said the Zamboanga Peninsula had been having light to moderate rain since Thursday morning.

Knee-deep floods also forced the local government units to close the main highways and a bridge in the municipality of Katipunan and other nearby towns in Zamboanga del Norte, Ramos added.

He said the council had also warned the municipalities in the southern section of Palawan that Auring could cause landslides and flooding.


Local disaster units

“But we are leaving it up to the local disaster management units to order preemptive evacuation in low-lying areas which may be affected by flooding,” Ramos said.

Ramos said he still had no casualty figures from Auring. More than 1,000 people died and another 800 went missing when Typhoon “Pablo” struck Mindanao on Dec. 4. Several dozen people were also killed in the aftermath of Tropical Storm “Quinta” last week. With reports from Carine Asutilla and Jhunnex Napallacan, Inquirer Visayas; Frinston L. Lim and Julie Alipala, Inquirer Mindanao; and Marlon Ramos and Jerry E. Esplanada in Manila

First posted 12:01 am | Friday, January 4th, 2013

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  • http://profile.yahoo.com/74IQSVIMDJRWLAYUUWYE62ZXMQ Jyb


  • victor1052

    Thank you, Lord.

  • Crysis_III

    good job…

  • Melanio Calayeg

    First storm of the year and almost the first recorded disaster of the year… Good job people keep it up…..

  • tyopaeng

    My uncle was once a captain of this  ship, our youngest brother has been a crew of this ship, many of my friends have once worked on this ship…it’s time for this vessel to retire.
    G&P please buy a new vessel for you owe a lot to the people of
    Mindanao and the the Visayas.
    They made you rich!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Abdul-Rashid/100004367910013 Abdul Rashid

      It is not the age of the ship stupid, it was the gusts that drove the ship off its line. For as long as it floats it is still good. I have taken that trip from Dapitan to Cebu I had a great time.

      • tyopaeng

        what if the passengers died?
        your line of thinking puts the passengers at risk stupid!!!

      • aSwedishguy

        ” It is not the age of the ship stupid”

        A ship with the right equipment should have no problem with this weather,, and yes the age of a ship does matter BIG TIME,,thats probably why this happened also

        Why are so many passenger ships running in to problems and killing people in PH do you think???  99% of them should be running as cars on roads by now instead of killing people at sea!!!!!! they are all a piece of junk!!

  • CmdrAdobo

    The photos with mother and children makes me cry.

  • AZKID13

    Why do they even go out to sea in bad weather, could have been a new ship and same results. Mother nature will always win !!!!!!

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/B5VIXDJ2WNIXH2WGVMCMOEKZC4 Cmac

    Disasters happen when never expected, that’s why they are called disasters or accidents.
    Kudos to the rescuers.

    Great job Heroes!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_L7PILUDK6IPFGJLJNCM2IROCRY Albin

    We need more rescue boats and choppers.

    • aSwedishguy

       You need a proper authority to ban this scrap boats to sail,,thats what you need

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WC2VPZRJETRO5KOU4VOZCJXEDY Tamarindwalk

       Before spending money on rescue boats and helicopters, we need to clean up the corruption in the government that allows such malpractices to occur!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100002478051349 Jonathan Bordon

    Factual error in this article:

    Zamboanga Ferry is not the biggest vessel in George and Peter lines fleet.

  • Danny Bravo

    bakit  pinapayagan  ng  coast  guard  na  magbiyahe  ay  may  bagyo  ,,  dahil  sa  lagayan  o  palakasan ?  kaya  maraming  namamatay  na  pilipino  sa  disaster  matigas  ang  ulo  at  pabaya  saan  ka  nakakita  na  sa  ilalim  ng  tulay  natira  ,,,bakit  hindi  paalisin,,  kung  walang  matirahan  pauwiin  sa  kanilang  probinsiya  t doon  mamuhay

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/WTIRTIXLBR5X47RMVKB3T43SWA charles

    the coast guard people never should have allowed the ship to sail in bad weather…how dumb could these people get? 

  • PhilippineSalt

    pulling the boat with a forklift?. Did we just open the ports yesterday, that we have only a forklift to use. wait wait… it was borrowed too! What the hell! We need serious equipment to use for our ports. period. Again, We have a lot of remittance fee income generated, tax, aid but we cannot afford the essentials. When we learn these… As always… we are still the Sick Man in Asia

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WC2VPZRJETRO5KOU4VOZCJXEDY Tamarindwalk

       You can bet the equipment wasn’t purchased because money was siphoned off into some officials’ pockets!

  • aSwedishguy

    better to stay away from any of the ferry’s in Philippines talaga !!

    Pinoys are good seamen everywhere but not in its own country

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WC2VPZRJETRO5KOU4VOZCJXEDY Tamarindwalk

    When will the national government clean out its corrupt officials and start enforcing laws as they are meant to be?  We citizens have the right to demand this and the obligation to stand up and pressure, if not fight, for better service for ourselves.

  • goldilock

    Prepared 1.5.13 for 1.10-12.13 weather disturbance.
    Cat 2 typhoon on Central Visayas on Jan. 10-12, 2013.
    Cancel boat travel on Jan 10-11 going in and out of Visayas region.

    High Tide plus storm surge floods low lying river banks, seaports and boulevard.

    Jan 5 – 9 no rain most of Philippines except on Jan 6 – 7 Davao to Zamboanga will have light scattered rain-showers – no umbrella needed.

  • goldilock

    Sinulog attendees, participant should be already in Cebu before Jan 10, 2013.
    Sinulog planners should supply rain-coats, sell rain coats for this event for 5 pesos or free.
    It will be rainy and possibly with very high winds that will make all displays flying all over.

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