Ship Flips Over
A roll-on, roll-off (ro/ro) cargo vessel capsized and sank at the Cabahug private wharf in barangay Looc, Mandaue City, on Monday evening while it was loading cargo.
Philippine Coast Guard Station commander Weniel Azcuna said the M/V Maria Angelica Grace of the Manila-based Rapal Shipping Lines listed to the right because of the waves caused by a fastcraft that passed nearby at 9:45 p.m. Monday and sank a few minutes later with its a cargo of rice and sugar loaded in five vans that had just come aboard.
"Natuwad gyud ang barko," he said. (The vessel tipped over.)
He said the skipper of the ship claimed his vessel lost its balance because of the strong waves caused by a passing ship.
Chief Petty Officer Edilberto Amor III of the PCG Mandaue City Detachment said the vans which had just been positioned in the ship's hold were not yet latched when strong waves hit the vessel. The vehicles tipped to port (left) side causing the vessel to lose its balance.
"Disgrasya gyud ang nahitabo. Nagpasulud sa panglimang truck, naa pa dapit sa rampa, niagi ang fastcraft ni-create og dakong balod. Wala pa mahigti ang mga truck, nangatumba ni, na-out balance maong natuwad ang barko," he said.
(It was really an accident. The fifth truck was still near the ramp and was about to be loaded into the ship when a passing fastcraft created big waves that slammed into the ship. The trucks were still not latched so it tipped over and caused the ship to lose its balance.)
Wilson Dieta, 36, the ship's captain, said the heavy weight of one truck loaded with construction materials caused the cargoes to shift.
Azcuna said the 18 crew and officers, the seven drivers and laborers of the trucks jumped off the vessel before it sank.
Dieta, together with two oilers and an electrician, were the last ones to get out of the sinking ship.
Rico Apolinar, a crewmember of the ship,said he was sleeping in his quarters when he felt water seeping in. He immediately went out and jumped overboard.
"Mao na lang akong namat-an, ga-tumba-tumba ang barko ug nasulod na ang tubig sud sa ako kwarto. Dali lang ko nigawas ug niambak. Wala na gyud ko kadag bisan unsa nga butang," he said.
John Alejandro, 25, of Tagbilaran City, Bohol, said it was his first time to get involved in a marine accident.
"First time pa gyud ni nako, maayo na lang kay dinhi ra nalunod sa pier ang barko, kay kung didto pa sa layo unsaon na lang," he said. (It's my first time to encounter this kind of accident. Fortunately, it happened just right here in the pier. If this happened while we're at sea, I don't know how we could survive this.)
Azcuna said an investigation was underway to determine if the sinking was the result of bad loading procedures because other vessels docked in the area were not affected by the waves.
He said the vessel's hull could still be seen at the Cabahug wharf.
The Coast Guard has to assess the amount of damage because they were still coordinating with the owners of the vessel and the cargo.
The cargo was intended for delivery to Masbate. The vessel was supposed to leave for Masbate at 11 p.m. on Monday.
Azcuna said the Coast Guard has put up an oil spill boom around the vessel to prevent fuel from spreading in case it oozes out of the ship.
The crew revealed that around 8,000 liters of industrial diesel fuel were still in the vessel's fuel tank.
"This is an initial response, a preventive measure so that the oil spill is contained within the vicinity of the vessel," he told Cebu Daily News.
Azcuna said he has required the owner, Salvador Rapal, to siphon off the fuel.
The Coast Guard was also waiting for an official report on the sinking from the ship's skipper.
Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes said he will ask other companies to help pump out the diesel fuel from the ship's tank.
The mayor, who inspected the accident site in Cabahug Wharf, said he was shocked to see coast guard personnel manually skimming the oil from the water surface.
"Ato gihapon sila tabangan kung unsa man gani atoa ma-extend," he said. (We will extend all the help that we can give.)