Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Boat sinks in northern Philippines, 23 dead

At least 23 people drowned and 31 were missing after an overcrowded motorboat capsized in high seas off the northern Philippines, officials said on Monday. Nearly 50 people survived the accident, coast guard commander Wilfredo Tamayo said, adding some were rescued by fishermen from northern Cagayan province.
“The boat was carrying too many people,” Tamayo told Reuters, adding the wooden-hulled boat had a capacity of 50 passengers, including crew. “There was a clear violation and we’re holding the boat owners and captain responsible for the accident.”
Boat accidents are common in the Philippines, with sea travel the cheapest form of transport between islands in the archipelago of more than 7,100 islands.
Some bodies had washed ashore while many people survived by holding big empty plastic containers to stay afloat, said Alex de los Santos, police chief in Ballesteros town in Cagayan. The stricken vessel set sail on Sunday morning.
One of the boat owners and her daughter were among those killed, the coast guard said. “The boat was about a kilometre away from the shoreline when big waves and strong winds broke one of the boat’s outriggers,” de los Santos said in a television interview. “Then the boat tilted to one side before it capsized.”
“It happened at night so it was too dark, there was zero visibility,” he said, adding officials heard about the accident hours later when some survivors swam ashore. The MB Mae Jan was travelling from Calayan island to Aparri town in Cagayan province, 400 km north of Manila.
Coastal towns were informed of gale warnings prior to the boat sinking, a government official said, as typhoon Dolphin entered Philippine territory.
The typhoon, currently centred off southeastern Catanduanes, is forecast to move slowly northwest, but not expected to hit land, the weather bureau said.
Last month, a cargo vessel sank near the same area, killing one person while 16 who clung to the half-submerged ship were rescued by passing ships.

More articles