Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Let Us Hope It deosn't SINK! "Superferry To Be Used for Haitian EQ Relief"

Superferry To Be Used for Haitian EQ Relief

I find this facinating, since all of the ports of Haiti are completely destroyed, and it is going on one week since the disaster, and there is no way that the SF could have been used for immediate releif, becasue there are no workable ports at this time at PoP. Now, if the SF is being used this way, good for it. However, it does not mean that what happened to the SF in Hawaii was a bad thing. The ship belongs in military use, obviously. However, what do SF proponents have to say about other SF which sank with passengers aboard earlier this year? Im just sayin, people.

SuperFerry sinks off Zambo Norte coast

Disaster cause still not clear

Associated Press, Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 01:25:00 09/07/2009

Filed Under: Maritime Accidents, Waterway & Maritime Transport

MANILA, Philippines—The text messages to relatives came early Sunday from passengers aboard the SuperFerry 9 midway on a voyage from General Santos City to Iloilo City that the vessel carrying more than 900 people was listing to its starboard side.

Rosalie Solarte, 40, said she called her husband Alberto, 52, at around 5:30 a.m.

“He said he was about to jump from the ship,” said Solarte, one of about 20 people who had rushed to the Iloilo port to ask about the fate of their relatives aboard the ill-fated vessel.

“I told him to wait and observe first what is happening. I can’t contact him now,” the Guimaras resident told the Inquirer.

As dawn broke in waters off the Zamboanga peninsula on a clear day, the SuperFerry 9 had capsized, according to officials, leaving at least twelve people dead in the panic and scramble for the exits.

Coast Guard chief Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo said that as of 9 p.m. Sunday night, 926 survivors had been rescued—some of them on life rafts—by two commercial ships and several Philippine Navy vessels and taken to Zamboanga City.

A search was under way for more than 30 people who remained missing, Tamayo said, adding that they may have drifted with their life jackets or have been rescued but were not yet listed as survivors.

“We really hope they’re just unaccounted for due to the confusion,” Tamayo said.

Navy ships were deployed and Air Force helicopters scoured the seas, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro said.

The US military station in Zamboanga City conducting antiterrorist training dispatched a support vessel with a medical team to help in the search.

Survivor Raffy Borro said it was his first time to see babies and children thrown out to the water as their mothers cried.

"Parang Titanic Filipino-style. Para kaming nasa pelikula pero totoo talaga (It was like Titanic Filipino-style. It was like being in a movie scene but this was all real)," Borro told the Inquirer.

He reported a shortage in life jackets and life rafts.

"Agawan. Maginaw. Madilim. Kaya natakot lahat tumalon sa dagat. Noong mabilis ang pagtagilid, ang daming tumakbo at nag-panic, maraming natakot. Ang mga bata nag-iiyakan, mga magulang iyakan hingi ng tulong (People were grappling for life jackets. It was cold. Dark. That’s why people were so scared, they just jumped into the sea. When we felt the ship listing fast, many ran and panicked. The kids were crying and the parents were wailing for help)," Borro recalled.

Passenger Chelona Pabit of Trento town in Agusan province said she saw babies and children being thrown out of the boat. "It was like you were leaving it all up to fate on who will survive," Pabit said.

Before leaving the General Santos City port Saturday morning, Pabit said, she heard a loud bang below the boat.

"Then the boat started to tilt. We were travelling on a tilted boat," Pabit said.

Pabit said she even asked a ship crew why the boat was tilted, and all the response was: "strong wind and waves."

Romeo Billano, 62, had the same observation.

"It was like a container van slammed on the wall below," Billano said.

"There were no big waves. The weather was fine," he added.

All Billano had with him as he jumped off the boat was a piece of paper where the mobile phone number of his daughter was written.

Roderick Teves, a driver and one of the survivors, told Bombo Radyo-GenSan in a mobile phone interview that 19 crew members of Tanging Pamilya were aboard the ill-fated ferry.

But Teves said only nine of them were rescued.

"I don't know whether my 10 other colleagues were rescued by other vessels who helped in the rescue efforts," he said in Tagalog.

Teves identified eight co-workers who were saved with him as Joe Carlo Aquino, Joseph Noble, Raniel Billones, Manuel Malixi, Victor Gevilo, Mike Lungos, John Michael Roselo and Gaspar Capalar Jr.

Teves, a resident of Libis, Quezon City, claimed that their equipment and two service trucks sank with the vessel.

He revealed that around 2 a.m., the passenger ship tilted to the right, when container vans apparently slid to the right.

"I guess the ship lost its balance. We were on the vessel waiting for the rescue. Other passengers who panicked grabbed life jackets and jumped off the ship," he said.

Cause of sinking unclear

The cause of the listing was not clear.

The ferry skipper, Joel Yap, initially ordered everyone on board to abandon the ship as a precautionary step, said Jess Supan, vice president of Aboitiz Transport System, which owns the steel-hulled ferry built in Japan in 1986.

Supan said the vessel carried 847 passengers, a crew of 117 and four sea marshals.

Supan ruled out a terrorist attack as the cause of the disaster, similar to the February 2004 assault carried out by the Abu Sayyaf bandit group on SuperFerry 14 that killed 116 people aboard.

But survivor Jude Borro, a resident of General Santos, belied the claim of Supan that the vessel captain gave instructions to passengers to abandon ship.

"There was no instruction from the captain. The ship's crew were even the first to jump off the vessel. The passengers helped each other," Borro said during the same interview.

Borro said the SuperFerry 9 was apparently overloaded.

Borro claimed that about two hours after cruising past Zamboanga City, he heard a thunderous noise from under the vessel where the container vans where loaded.

There were reports that the ferry listed to the right due to a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.

Potential oil spill

The 7,000-ton vessel was carrying 220 tons of fuel oil, Supan said, adding that the salvage ship Harbour had been sent to the area to contain any possible oil spill.

He said the Coast Guard had also called a team from Palawan with oil booms and oil dispersants.

Passenger Roger Cinciron told dzMM radio by cell phone that he felt the ferry was tilting around midnight, but he was assured by a crewman that everything was well.

About two hours later, he was roused from sleep by the sound of crashing cargo below his cabin, he said.

“People began to panic because the ship was really tilting,” he said as he waited for rescuers to save him and a group of more than 20 other passengers.

The ferry, which left General Santos City at 8:45 a.m. on Saturday and was scheduled to arrive in Iloilo at 2 p.m. Sunday, ran into problems midway and began to list about 15 kilometers from the nearest shore, Tamayo said.

Fair weather

The weather was generally fair in the vicinity of the Zamboanga peninsula, although a tropical storm was battering the country’s north, the Coast Guard said.

SuperFerry 9 “encountered an undefined problem 17.5 nautical miles off Sibuco Port, Zamboanga del Norte, at 3:35 a.m.,” the maritime police said.

The ship captain then instructed passengers and crew to abandon the sinking vessel, which at the time continued to list to its starboard side.

In its 8:30 a.m. update Sunday, the Philippine Navy said the vessel had already capsized with “bottom hull sighted” some 5.2 nautical miles southwest of Tulalu Point, Sibuco Bay.

Previous accidents

Last year, the MV Princess of the Stars overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon off Romblon, killing more than 800 people on board.

In December 1987, the MV Doña Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

Among those in the Iloilo port waiting for word of survivors was Elvira Casumlon, 71, of Badiangan town in Iloilo province. Her son, Pepito Jr., 31, was aboard the vessel, traveling with his wife Lita, 36, 7-year-old son Christopher and neighbor Sueden Bolero.

‘I pray that they’re safe’

“I last heard from them Saturday morning when the ship left. I kept on calling them but I failed to contact them,” Elvira said.

Teresita Monijaque from Leganes town in Iloilo has been sending text messages and dialing her cell phone in the hope of reaching her 29-year-old son Jobert and 3-year-old granddaughter Name.

“He sent a text message around 3:15 a.m. that the boat was sinking. I pray that they’re safe,” she said.

Others who arrived early at the shipping port to fetch their kin were shocked to hear that the ship sank.

“I only knew what happened when I got here,” said Giovanni Projio, who came from Sigma town in Capiz province to meet his father-in-law.

Frantic calls from relatives swamped radio stations who covered the rescue operations. Others waited at the radio stations which were trying to call passengers. With reports from Tarra Quismundo, Riza T. Olchondra, Amy Remo, Marlon Ramos, Kristine L. Alave and Nikko Dizon in Manila; Nestor P. Burgos Jr., Inquirer Visayas; Julie Alipala and Aquiles Zonio, Inquirer Mindanao, and Associated Press

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