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Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Worst Maritime Disasters in Philippine History

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - A passenger ferry carrying 823 people and crew sank off the coast of Romblon province in the Philippines as Typhoon Frank (International Codename: Fengshen) battered the country. The MV Princess of the Stars, which was bound for the southern city of Cebu from the capital Manila, ran aground around 7:00 AM of June 19 and began taking in water, prompting the captain to issue a signal to abandon ship.

So far, only 4 bodies out of the 823 were found, the rest are still missing while 4 are have been confirmed to survive the disaster. Rescuers are speculating that some of the survivors have been swept to nearby Cresta del Gallo island just off Sibuyan Island in Romblon.

The MV Princess of the Stars

In line with this new disaster in Philippine maritime history, let us go back to the worst maritime disaster in the country for the past twenty years.

December 20, 1987 - MV Dona Paz

MV Doña Paz was a passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector on December 20, 19877.The Doña Paz was en route from Catbalogann, on Samar Island, Philippines, to Manila when, while it was in the Tablas Strait, between islands of Mindoro and Tablas, it collided with a small oil tanker, the Vector, which was carrying 8,800 barrels of petroleum products.The Vector's cargo ignited and caused a fire that rapidly spread onto the Doña Paz, which sank within minutes. Two of the 13 crew members aboard the Vector survived but all 58 crew of the Doña Paz died. The official death toll on the ferry is 1,565, although some reports claim that the ferry was overcrowded and that the true death toll is over 4,000. The ships would put the death toll at 4,375 although admitting that only 1,568 were on the manifest (still more than the licensed maximum of 1,518). The 21 (or 24) survivors from the ferry had to swim, as there was no time to launch lifeboats.An inquiry later revealed that the crew of the Vector was underqualified and that the boat's license had expired.It is the worst ferry disaster and the worst peace-time maritime disaster in history

October 24, 1988 - MV Dona Marilyn

MV Dona Marilyn was known as the sister ship of MV Dona Paz which was both owned by Sulpicio Lines. On October 24, 1988, the ship left Manila and was bound for Cebu City but was caught mid-voyage in a typhoon and sank leaving 254 dead.

December 2, 1994 - MV Cebu City

MV Cebu City was a ferry operated by William Lines Incorporated which later merged with Aboitiz Incorporated in 1996. In December 2, 1994, the 2,452 tonnes ferry sunk in Manila Bay after colliding with Singaporean freighter Kota Suria claiming 140 lives. After the investigation by the Philippine Coast Guard, the crew of Cebu City was found responsible for the incident. The collision could have been avoided if the Cebu City obeyed a call from the freighter Kota Suria to turn right. Instead, Cebu City reportedly turned left and crossed to Kota Suria's path.

December 13, 1995 - MV Kimelody Cristy

MV Kimelody Cristy was a passenger ferry owned and operated by Moreta Shipping Lines Incorporated that caught fire and sank off Fortune Island, Nasugbu, Batangas as it was on its way to Mindoro. It was later found out in an investigation that the ship has yet been approved for sailing and that it operated only on provisional authority from MARINA officials. The Office of the Ombudsman is convinced that the owner falsified the date on the document containing the provisional authority. The tragedy left 17 people dead and 16 people missing.

September 20, 1998 - MV Princess of the Orient

MV Princess of the Orient is another Sulpicio Lines-owned passenger ferry that sank off Fortune Island in Nasugbu, Batangas on its way to Cebu City from Manila. The ship reportedly left the port of Manila even as a typhoon signal has been declared in the city. This disaster claimed the lives of 150 people.

December 23, 1999 - MV Asia South Korea

MV Asia South Korea was a passenger ferry owned by Trans-Asia Shipping Lines. On its way to Iloilo City from Cebu City to bring home passengers trying to beat the Christmas holiday rush, it sank off Bantayan Island in Cebu province killing 44 people, including two Canadian nationals and 12 Nepalese students. It was found out that the number of passengers exceeded the total capacity of the 27-year-old ferry and that it sailed from port even as authorities have already banned ferries from travelling due to an incoming storm.

February 25, 2000 - MV Our Lady of Mediatrix

MV Our Lady of Mediatrix was an Ozamis City-bound passenger ferry that caught fire as it was trying to dock after two bombs rigged inside three buses on-board exploded killing 45 people. The bombings have been blamed by the government to the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) who at that time is waging a war for separatism in Mindanao.

April 12, 2000 - ML Annahada

ML Annahada was a merchant launch which sank off Sulu province in the Philippines on April 12, 2000. It was found out that the merchant launch was overloaded. It had 150 to 200 passengers on-board but it was licensed to carry only 9 crew, 11 passengers and cargo. 56 people were reportedly killed and over 100 missing. Most of the passengers were reportedly illegal migrants on their way to Tawi-Tawi which then serves as the backdoor of the country to Malaysia and Indonesia.

April 11, 2002 - MV Maria Carmela

MV Maria Carmela as it burns

MV Maria Carmela is a roll-on roll-off (RORO) passenger ferry owned and operated by Montenegro Shipping Lines. It left Masbate port on the evening of April 10 but caught fire just an hour from its destination city of Lucena in Quezon province. Out of the 290 passengers and crew, 23 were killed and 27 are missing.

May 26, 2003 - MV San Nicolas

MV San Nicolas was a wooden-hulled merchant launch bound for Manila from Coron, Palawan that collided with WGA Superferry 12 off the coast of Corregidor Island around noon of May 26, 2003. At that time, torrential rains have been pouring over the region and it was zero visibility for most ships causing the MV San Nicolas to collide with the giant WGA vessel. Out of the 203 passengers of MV San Nicolas, 39 people were killed. In an investigation conducted after the incident, it was found out that both MV San Nicolas and WGA Superferry 14 made serious errors and negligence which caused both ships to collide. MV San Nicolas is owned by San Nicolas Shipping formerly known as Asuncion Shipping Lines which was based in Banton, Romblon.

February 27, 2004 - WGA Superferry 14

WGA Superferry 14 being rescued by naval firefighters

WGA Superferry is a luxury passenger ferry owned and operated by the WG&A Consortium which sank of the coast of Corregidor Island on February 27, 2004 after an explosion on the side of the ship caused a fire killing at least 100 of the 899 passengers and crew. It was later reported that the Muslim extremist group Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the explosion in an attempt to destabilize the national government.

June 10, 2007 - MV Catalyn-D

MV Catalyn-D was another wooden-hulled ferry owned and operated by San Nicolas Shipping which caught fire and sank off Paluan Bay in Mindoro Occidental province. Out of the 260 passengers, 5 people were killed including a 5-year-old girl. P2 million worth of goods and products that were to be delivered to Coron, Palawan was lost in the tragedy leaving the residents of the remote island desperate for foodstuffs. After the initial investigation, it was concluded that the captain and owners of Catalyn-D had committed severe negligence. All of the ships in the company's fleet were temporarily grounded pending investigation and inspection.

June 22, 2008 - MV Princess of the Stars

MV Princess of the Stars was a Sulpicio Lines-owned passenger ferry that sank off San Fernando town in Sibuyan Island , Romblon Province. The ferry which was bound for Cebu City from Manila was caught mid-voyage by Typhoon Frank which was then battering Romblon province with winds of about 150 mph. It ran aground some 500 meters from shore as it was trying to catch the safety of Romblon capitol port. Of the reportedly 823 passengers, 4 have been reported dead as of the moment and 4 were reported to have survived.

Umalohokan Online Research.

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