Officer killed, 19 crew saved in cargo ship sinking
LUCENA CITY, Philippines—A chief engineer was killed but 19 other crew members were rescued after a cargo ship carrying 20,000 sacks of cement sank off Lobo, Batangas province, on Thursday afternoon.
The Antique-bound MV Sea Merchant left Bauan, Batangas, about 12 noon on Thursday but encountered rough seas and strong winds as it approached Calapan City in Oriental Mindoro around 4 p.m., said Capt. Gregorio Adel Jr., deputy commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Southern Tagalog District.
Quoting from survivors’ accounts, Adel said the ship started to list near Baco Chico Island in Oriental Mindoro.
“It then took in seawater and that was when the captain issued the order to abandon ship,”he said.
The crew boarded two life rafts, with nine going in one raft and 11 in the other.
According to Adel, the first raft with nine crew members was rescued at about 8:30 a.m. on Friday between Verde Island, Batangas, and Baco Chico Island.
Among those on the raft were the ship’s captain, Luzvimindo Casipong, and the dead chief engineer, Almarito Anciano.
Adel said the chief engineer “was found by rescuers with a wound on his head.” He could not give any more details on the circumstances of Anciano’s death.
He said the 11 other crew members in the second raft were rescued by another passenger ship on Thursday evening near Lobo, Batangas.
PCG personnel identified the 11 crew members from the second life raft as chief mate Celso Baesa and crewmen Rommel Zoleta, Constantino Torres, Philip Solomon, Leste John Cariños, Manny Mendiola, Ronnie Lebguban, Franklin Ibañez, Richie Jakusalem, John Patrick Saklot and Leonard Roma.
The names of the other seven rescued seamen were Ligas Benildo, John Riel Nurad, Kirby Dan Ralph Rivera, Rizaldy Subo, Mon James Gabunilas, Frank Generelao and Michael Tagolgol.
The rescued seafarers were taken to the PCG station in Batangas City.
Adel said the ship was allowed to sail since the weather was fine when it left Batangas last Thursday.
The MV Sea Merchant is owned by a Philippine company, Fortune Sea Carrier Inc.
A cargo boat, the MV Calatraba, was also reported to have sunk after being battered by big waves while seeking refuge off Pola, Oriental Mindoro.
The boat left the Batangas port on Thursday afternoon and was bound for Corcuera, Romblon, when it encountered bad weather, forcing it to seek shelter off Pola, said Chief Petty Officer Ricardo Montesa of the PCG substation in Calapan City.
He said all 15 crew members of the boat were safe.–With reports from Madonna Virola and Marrah Erika Lesaba, Inquirer Southern Luzon
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