Marina suspends ferry stranded by waves in Dumaguete

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THE Maritime Industry Authority in Central Visayas (Marina-7) suspended the safety certificate of MV Zamboanga Ferry a day after it failed to dock at the Dumaguete City port due to strong waves.

Marina-7 legal officer Jose Cabatingan said the suspension will be lifted only after there are satisfactory results in an inspection of the vessel’s seaworthiness.

The ship remains docked several meters from the Dumaguete pier because of low tide, which made retrieval difficult.

Stranded passengers arrived in Cebu on board a sister vessel the MV Georich of George and Peter Lines in pier 2 of Cebu City at 9 a.m yesterday.

Although thankful to be alive, they worried about the baggage still left on board the ship and when their belongings will be returned to them.

Passenger Jun Castello described the waves as big as the boat itself.

Rosabella Cataraja of Bogo City said crew members fetched her family from the lower deck as waves crashed into the vessel. The children and elderly were rescued first, she said.

They were lowered down to life rafts and rubber boats, but the rough crossing to the pier where rescuers had to lift them up to the sea wall was a traumatic experience for most.

All 228 passengers were safely evacuated from the vessel to Dumaguete City’s boulevard.

The big waves were caused by tropical storm “Auring” which is scheduled to leave the country today.

The ferry came from Zamboanga City and was headed to Cebu via Dumaguete City. The ship captain is expected to file a marine protest about the incident.

George and Peter Lines, Inc. vice president Georgia Felice Chiongbian-Rama said they expected Marina’s suspension.

“Even without the order, it is George & Peter Lines’ duty to the public to properly inspect the vessel and ensure its seaworthiness before resuming her trip and taking on any passengers,” she said.

Rama said the inspection by Marina officials will be done in Dumaguete.

“We are still doing retrieval operations. We sent a tugboat to pull the vessel to deeper waters,” she said.

GP Lines Inc, a company that is over 50 years old, owns two other vessels serving Cebu, Dumaguete, Dapitan and Zamboanga.

Dumaguete port manager Annie Lee Manese said they advised other vessels anchor at sea while other tramping vessels docked safely at the port were advised to seek shelter in Bais Bay.

Michael Mate, executive assistant of Philippine Ports Authority-Dumaguete said they are considering an alternative port in the southern part of Negros Oriental for vessels unable to overcome huge waves.

Retrieval operations for MV Zamboanga Ferry were done at 6:15 a.m, 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. yesterday but failed to recover the vessel due to low tide.

Coast Guard Dumaguete chief Capt. Robin Caluscusin said the passengers were being fed by the shipping company and are only waiting for another vessel to transport them to Cebu.

Cebu Coast Guard commander Capt. Anelito Gabison said some of these passengers headed for Cebu are from Mindanao.

Meanwhile, two fishermen from Carcar town who were reported missing returned home yesterday. Their banca engine stalled druing the storm. They paddled to the nearest coastline in Sibonga town, Cebu then went to Carcar. With Correspondents Christine Emily Pantaleon and Reporter Aileen Garcia-Yap

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