The seas surrounding the islands of the Visayas are among the most heavily travelled waters in the country’s territory. With such a large amount of ship traffic, whether they are fishing vessels, passenger ferries or cargo ships, some accidents would sadly happen caused by anything from human error, vessel defects or Mother Nature itself. Just this past weekend, the risks of travelling by sea have become prominent once more in the waters separating the island province of Guimaras, separated by the Iloilo Strait from the same-named province on Panay Island. Here, three small boat ferries were capsized, with lives lost.
The Philippine Star has it that three wooden-hulled and motorized passenger mini-ferries between Iloilo and Guimaras were capsized this Saturday August 3, resulting in no less than 31 dead at last count. The pump-boats M/B Chi-Chi and M/B Keziah were travelling together when their accidents occurred, while the M/B Jenny Vince figured in a separate incident within the general area according to the Philippine Coast Guard. All three vessels were carrying a total number of 96 passengers plus their respective crews, and in the wake of these successive tragedies 31 have drowned, 62 were rescued and three are still missing.
In a statement issued by Commodore Allan dela Vega of PCG Western Visayas District on Sunday, August 4, the probable cause of the multiple capsizing was due to squalls generated by the ongoing Monsoon season, with rain-bearing winds sweeping the country from the southwest. The squall generated large waves that bore down on the three ferries while they were on their way to Guimaras from Iloilo City. Dela Vega notes that the Keziah had no passengers and only five crewmen, the Jenny Vince had 40 passengers and Chi-Chi 43, with both having four crewmen each.
Commander Armand Balilo, spokesperson for the PCG as a whole, remarked that the localized squalls which caused the pump-boats to capsize were a local phenomenon familiar to people in the area. “The phenomenon of a squall occurring in the middle of the void in the middle of the sea is what we call a ‘subasco’ in the maritime community,” says Balilo. “That probably hit them and that may be the initial reason for the sailing problems of the three boats.” The two ferries with passengers are noted to have both been carrying passengers below its maximum capacity, Survivors or the incidents noted how quickly the skies darkened while they were headed for Guimaras, before winds and waves struck their respective boats. No warning was given due to fair weather forecasts.
Image courtesy of GMA News