Port authorities ground ships of company in Mindoro marine accident


CALAPAN CITY, Philippines—Port authorities here have grounded all ships of Besta Shipping Lines, which owns the roll-on-roll-off MV Baleno 168 that sank after seawater flooded the vessel as it was about to dock at the Calapan port on Thursday morning.

Weng Sanz, coordinator of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), said in a phone interview Friday that port authorities have grounded all vessels of the shipping line following the incident.

Victor Arellano, the Philippine Ports Authority’s  port manager, said the Philippine Coast Guard and PPA immediately cordoned off the area to prevent unauthorized persons from getting close since the vessel still had fuel and could explode.

Authorities feared an explosion as 18 vehicles were still in the vessel. At least 55 passengers were rescued from the vessel that plied the Calapan-Batangas route.

Initial investigation showed the vessel, which has a registered gross tonnage of 989, had a hole at the bottom near the propeller, which caused the ship to list to the starboard side and sink in shallow water.

Arellano said they have borrowed an oil boom from a gas station here to manage an oil spill.

“We will serve a notice for the owner to pull their vessel,” he said.

On December 27, 2009, MV Baleno 9, an inter-island vessel also operated by the same shipping line, sank off Isla Verde in Batangas, as it was sailing from Calapan to Batangas.

A total of 132 passengers were on the ferry. Six died, 72 survived and 54 remained missing.

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