Search for missing in sunken 2GO vessel stops
CEBU CITY—The search for the missing in the sunken MV Thomas Aquinas, a ship owned by the 2GO shipping line, has been called off.
At least 21 passengers of the ship, which sank after a collision with the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete, have not been found.
Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, Armed Forces Central Command chief, said the search was stopped because repeated dives made by Navy frog men and volunteer divers had been futile.
“After 30 days, with no body recovered, we have agreed to suspend [the search],” said Deveraturda. He said the decision was reached to give way to operations to clean up oil that had leaked out of the Thomas Aquinas and contaminated the seas near where it sank.
He said, however, that a Notice to Mariners had been issued requesting anyone at sea to immediately report sightings of bodies floating in the water. “If there’s a need to dive again, we will,” Deveraturda added.
The Thomas Aquinas was entering the Cebu port on Aug. 16 when it collided with the Express Siete, owned by Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp., the new name of Sulpicio Lines, in the vicinity of Lawis Ledge in Talisay City.
More than 100 passenger of the Thomas Aquinas are dead while more than 700 others, including crewmen, were rescued. The tragedy is continuing, however, as oil that leaked out of the sunken 2GO vessel has contaminated beaches and brought a sharp decline in the sale of fish from the area.
“We have explored the entire vessel, including those where there are collapsed structures,” said Deveraturda.
The divers themselves, however, had given up hope of finding more bodies. “Based on the assessment of the divers, there are no more bodies to be retrieved,” said Deveraturda.
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