25 confirmed dead as 3 boats capsize in Iloilo Strait

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Emergency response teams and local boat operators undertake rescue operations off the Parola Wharf in Iloilo City on August 3 after three boats capsized at the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait amid rains and big waves. -- BW/EMME ROSE S. SANTIAGUDO

By Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

TOURISTS, TEACHERS, and children were among the 25 people confirmed dead after three boats capsized at the Iloilo Strait on Saturday afternoon.

Out of the 87 passengers, 53 survived while nine are still missing, according to Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) head Donna P. Magno.

“As of 1:00 p.m., we recorded 87 total passengers that were onboard the three motor bancas. Forty-seven of which boarded on MB Chi-Chi while 40 boarded MB Jenny Vince,” she said in a press conference Sunday.

Based on the situation report of the Joint Iloilo City-Guimaras Incident Command Post, the two motorized boats MB Chi-Chi and MB Keziah capsized due to strong winds as they were plying from Parola Wharf in Iloilo City to Jordan, Guimaras at around 12:15 p.m. on Saturday.

MB Chi-Chi was carrying 47 passengers, and 35 of them survived, Ms. Magno reported.

“We recorded 11 casualties while one passenger of MB Chi-Chi remains missing. MB Keziah only boarded its crew members and they were all safe,” she said.

At around 3:30 p.m. the same day, another pump boat, MB Jenny Vince, carrying 40 passengers plying from San Buenavista, Guimaras to Iloilo also capsized due to strong winds and rain.

Ms. Magno said that out of the 40 passengers, 14 were confirmed dead while eight are still missing.

Authorities retrieved 11 of the casualties from MB Jenny Vince off Dumangas town in Iloilo on Sunday morning.

One of the survivors onboard MB Jenny Vince, 36-year old Patrick M. Perales from Palawan, said the sun came out after the first incident, which is probably why trips were not cancelled.

Guimaras Governor Samuel T. Gumarin also said the crew members of MB Jenny Vince did not anticipate the student strong winds and rain.

“The motor boat captains really thought the weather is fairly good, that is why they did not anticipate that a strong wind and rain would overturn and capsize their motor boat,” he said.

Civil Defense Regional Director Jose Roberto Nuñez said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is already conducting an investigation on why the motor boats were authorized to sail despite the weather and following the first incident.

Mr. Gumarin, meanwhile, said they asses existing local policies and protocols on sea travel.

“We have observed a lot of things that need to be changed, especially for our sailors and local government units, especially on the sea-worthiness of our motor boats,” he said.

As of Sunday, all trips between Iloilo City and Guimaras have been suspended.