NAGA CITY, Philippines—The continuing presence of 15 ships vessels that were washed or blown inland by Supertyphoon Yolanda’s storm surges and high winds in Eastern Visayas have been slowing down the recovery of more bodies in the disaster area, the heads of government agencies under Task Force Yolanda agreed this week.
The Philippine Coast Guard reported that nine mostly cargo ships, two tugboats and a barge were still stuck in the coastal villages of Tacloban City while three other ships were grounded in various places in Guiuan, Eastern Samar.
PCG Tacloban station commander Lieutenant Paul Gonzales said they were still trying to coordinate with the shipowners on how to refloat the vessels.
He said that the still ongoing assessment by insurance companies and lack of equipment were holding them back in putting the ships back to sea.
Senior Superintendent Pablito Cordeta, regional director of Bureau of Fire Protection in Eastern Visayas and head of the body collection group of Task Force Yolanda, said the presence of these ships in residential areas slowed down the progress of his group in searching for bodies that might still underneath the debris and the vessels themselves.
“We are hoping that the shipowners will start work on retracting these vessels before the end of this year. Some owners have been sending engineers to assess and determine the materials and equipment needed,” Gonzales said by phone on Friday.
He said that the possibility of oil spills was also a factor to consider in the removal of the stranded vessels.
The regional Coast Guard command, in its report to Task Force Yolanda, said the ships stranded in Tacloban included two tugboats and a barge owned by Vicente Lao Construction based in Davao City.
The passenger/cargo ships were M/V Star Hilongos, owned by Roble Shipping Lines Inc. based in Cebu City; M/V Jaguar, owned by Tacloban Oil Mills (TOMI) of Tolosa, Leyte; M/V TOMI Elegance, also of TOMI; M/V Eva Jocelyn, of Eva Shipping Lines in Mandaue City; M/V Gayle, of Unilink Shipping Lines in Mandaue City; M/V David, of Candano Shipping Lines in Tabaco City, Albay; M/V Rosman, owned by Richmond Ng of Quezon City; M/V Ligaya-V, of Avega Brothers Integrated Shipping Corp.; and M/V Eastern Star, of Lilygene Shipping Lines Inc.
In Guiuan, still stuck on land were M/V RKK Uno, M/V Lancer, M/V Lady of Fatima, whose owners had apparently not yet been identified.