Ship runs aground in Cebu Channel

06/21/10 - CEBU CITY, Philippines—A passenger vessel owned by the Cokaliong Shipping
Lines ran aground past 4 a.m. Saturday off the Lipata bank, Talisay City, while it was entering the Cebu Channel from the south.

All 352 passengers and 45 officers and crew of the MV Filipinas Ozamis were safe, according to regional Coast Guard chief of staff and spokesman Captain Anelito Gabisan.

The ship ran around off the South Road Properties, a 300-hectare reclaimed property owned by the Cebu City government.

Nick Batutay, a passenger from Minglanilla, Cebu, said it was shortly after 4 a.m.—he was getting his luggage
ready as the ship was scheduled to dock at the Cebu City port at 5 a.m.—when he heard a loud thud as though the ship had hit something.

The passengers were alarmed when the vessel suddenly stopped moving, but they did not panic, Batutay said.

Batutay said nobody among the ship’s officers or crew made any announcement as to what had happened.

He said it was around 6 a.m. when a tugboat named “Andrew” arrived and tried to tow the vessel. But the effort failed because the rope snapped, Batutay said.

Batutay said he did not wait for the Coast Guard rescue team and decided to join other passengers who boarded fishermen’s boats that happened to be in the area to ferry them ashore.

Gabisan said Chester Cokaliong, the owner of the shipping company, called up Coast Guard Cebu station commander Elpidio Gunio to ask for assistance shortly after the vessel ran aground.

He said they deployed two patrol boats, three rubber boats and the search-and-rescue vessel SAR 001, which transported the passengers to Pier 1
in Cebu City.

“By 9 a.m., all the passengers were safely evacuated from the vessel,” Gabisan said.

As of noon, the vessel was still stuck in the area. It was waiting for the high tide to come in at around 4 p.m. so it could safely return to deeper water and sail to the Cebu City port, said Gabisan.

He said the ship’s skipper, Captain Erben Lumbab, was expected to file a marine protest so that an investigation into the incident could begin, particularly into an allegation that the vessel had strayed off course.

MV Filipinas Ozamis, a 1,560.06-ton ship, left Iligan City at 4 p.m. Friday for Cebu via Ozamis City.

Based on Coast Guard records, the vessel left the Ozamis port at 8 p.m. Friday and was supposed to arrive at 5 a.m. in Cebu City. The vessel has an authorized passenger capacity of 522. (inquirer)

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