Coast Guard teams continue search for 3 missing in ferry sinking
MANILA, Philippines – Search and rescue teams fielded by the Philippine Coast Guard have continued looking for three missing passengers of the roll-on, roll-off ferry MV Maharlika Dos (also identified as MV Maharlika 2 and MV Maharlika II in reports), which sank early Saturday night in the waters between Southern Leyte and Surigao del Norte, according to the PCG spokesperson.
Commander Armand Balilo, also chief of the agency’s Public Affairs Office, said that of the 116 persons reportedly on board the ill-fated ship, “110 have been rescued while there were three confirmed fatalities.”
The Coast Guard has yet to release the names of the rescued passengers and crew members, as well as those who perished in the sea tragedy.
Citing a report of the Coast Guard station in Cagayan de Oro City, Balilo also disclosed that three children – two boys and a girl – were among the survivors in the ship sinking.
The kids were “brought to an unnamed hospital in Surigao City. They were among 34 persons rescued by the crew of the MV Maharlika Cuatro,” a sister ship of the ill-fated Maharlika Dos, said the PCG officer.
Fifty-six others were rescued by the MV St. Martin, another interisland vessel; 19 by the foreign merchant ship MV Lara Venture; and one by the MT Orient King.
In a phone interview, Balilo said they would look into reports that nearly two dozen passengers – mostly drivers and conductors of the 13 vehicles the ship was also carrying – were not listed on the vessel’s manifest.
“All persons on board the ship should automatically be listed in the manifest,” he pointed out.
Citing an “account” of Juan Cayago, the ship’s captain, Balilo said the vessel was carrying 85 passengers and 31 crew members, or a total of 116 persons.
He disputed a radio report that the MV Maharlika Dos still sailed despite a gale warning issued by the weather bureau.
“No public storm warning had been issued for that particular area (before the vessel left Lipata port in Surigao City for Liloan port in Southern Leyte),” he said.
Before it sank, the vessel “managed to send a distress call when its engines stalled and the ship went dead on the water.”
The command “promptly alerted its stations in the area, as well as sent notices to passing mariners to come to the ship’s rescue,” he added.
A PCG report from the PCG station in Maasin, Southern Leyte, meanwhile, said the MV Maharlika Dos might have been slowed down by rough seas and big waves spawned by Typhoon “Luis.”
The ship’s skipper was “able to declare abandon ship before the vessel sank (at around 7 p.m.),” it also said.
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