At Least 40 dead in Philippine Ferry Mishap

The coast guard is pointing their finger at the captain of an overturned ferry. The captain has been detained and while the location of the boats owner is being determined. At least 40 dead with more are still missing.

The Philippine Coast Guard is saying the captain did not inform them that the boat was setting sail and that the boat was overloaded.   Ferry captains are required to alert the coast guard when they leave port.  The coast guard is suppose to inspect the vessel to make sure it is operating within the law.  The captain has been detained and authorities are looking for the boats owner as they say the vessel was operating illegally.

The captain denies that, saying he did inform the Coast Guard that he was leaving port.  He says the boat was not overloaded and there were life vest on board but the squall hit them so fast they had no time to react.

Over 100 people were rescued, but I don’t have any details on how.  I don’t know if the rescue was by the coast guard or other boats.   If by the coast guard, how was it notified?  If any readers know, please post a comment and let me know.

Are there patrols by the Coast Guard to help ensure compliance or is it strictly by the honor system?  I hope the Philippine Coast Guard does some spot checking, stopping and boarding boats and ferries in their waters.  Air travel is often not an option except by charter and that is very rarely a possibility for all but a few Filipino.

The scary part about this is that it is said when the boat left port the waters were calm.  Though I wonder how this could be true.  Norther Cebu Island is not very far from Masbate where the accident occurred.  There have been high winds and much more wave action in the bay of Bogo.  The bay is usually totally calm with perhaps a light wind at best.  For the day of this tragedy, the bay here has been anything but calm.  That would cause  me to believe they would have been far worse in open seas.

If the seas were calm at port, it would be very hard for passengers to exercise any judgement about getting on the boat.  There are reports all over the Internet about the dangers of using Ferries in the Philippines.  That may be in part due to the large number of people that depend on them.   Safety measures might make it too expensive for Filipino to use them.  In many cases there are no alternatives to choose from.

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Filed under: Living In The Philippines

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