Strict safety measures for boats pushed
ILOILO CITY—Officials of Guimaras Island and Iloilo City are pushing for stricter implementation of safety measures following Sunday’s deadly motorboat accident.
The death toll on the capsizing of motorboat Tawash climbed to eight after the body of 3-year-old CJ Gamotea was recovered in Barangay Sabang in Buenavista town on Tuesday morning.
Thirty-two passengers and crew members survived, but Gamotea’s mother, Shine Mata, remains missing as of Tuesday noon.
“This is the worst (motorboat) accident in terms of the number of fatalities in our province,” Guimaras Gov. Samuel Gumarin told the Inquirer.
The province has started a multiagency inquiry on possible lapses and liabilities surrounding the accident, Gumarin said. The agencies include the provincial government, Coast Guard, Maritime Industry Authority and the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
He said the investigation would look into the enforcement of the wearing of life jackets, sea worthiness of the motorboat, training of the motorboat’s crew to respond to emergencies and the response of the Coast Guard to the incident.
Motor bancas fitted with outriggers are the main form of transportation between Guimaras Island and Iloilo City. From 14,000 to 20,000 passengers—mostly students, workers and traders—travel to and from Guimaras daily.
Iloilo City Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog said the Coast Guard erred in allowing the motorboat to travel.
“Even if Iloilo was not under any storm signal, big waves and strong winds were imminent,” Mabilog said.
Three residents of the city were among the survivors.
Coast Guard officials earlier said the motorboat was allowed to travel based on weather conditions and because Iloilo and Guimaras were not under any storm signal.
The boat was a mile from Iloilo on its way to the Jordan port in Guimaras when it was suddenly hit by a squall, or a sudden and forceful gust of wind.
The squall lifted the boat and forced it to capsize, according to Coast Guard officials, citing accounts of crew members and survivors.
Several of the passengers were not wearing life jackets when the accident happened, according to the Coast Guard.
Gumarin said passengers usually do not wear life jackets during fair weather and when sea conditions are calm.
According to Lt. (j.g.) Edison Diaz, Coast Guard Iloilo station commander, many passengers who are required to wear life jackets before departure also usually remove them in transit, especially during warm weather.
Diaz also denied allegations that Coast Guard personnel took a long time to respond and reach the capsized motorboat.
“We immediately dispatched rescue teams upon receiving the report of the accident,” Diaz told the Inquirer.
The Guimaras provincial government shouldered the hospital expenses of the victims and funeral costs of the fatalities. It also granted financial assistance amounting to P25,000 for the families of the fatalities and P5,000 to survivors.
Residents of Iloilo City who were among the survivors each received P2,500 cash among other assistance, according to Mabilog.
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