Ferry catches fire off Argao port; 97 people saved
NINETY seven passengers of a sea vessel from Tagbilaran City, Bohol, were rescued after the vessel they were riding on caught fire only a few meters away from the Taloot Wharf in Argao town in southern Cebu on Sunday.
Substation Commander Gerry Patenio of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Argao said they received a report that Landing Craft Transport (LCT) Lite Ferry 28 had an engine fire at past 11 a.m. that day.
“Gikan sa Tagbilaran ni sila and 200 meters away from Taloot Wharf kay nag engine fire,” Patenio said in a phone interview.
(The vessel came from Tabilaran City, Bohol and about 200 meters away from Taloot Wharf they experienced an engine fire).
The passengers were immediately rescued by the coast guard of Argao and were brought to the shore, Patenio said.
While, Senior Fire Officer (SFO) 4 Rex Harrisson Florido of Argao Fire Station said they have raised the fire incident to second alarm, in which the fire trucks from neighboring town of Sibonga and Argao Fire Station responded to the scene at 11:05 a.m.
Florido said the three fire trucks boarded another LCT vessel and went to area to combat the fire. The authorities then declared fire out at 2:30 p.m.
According to Patenio, there are a total of 97 passengers – four children and 93 adults – and 27 crews who were onboard the vessel.
Among the passengers was Sharwyne Graciosa, 22, who was with her family and were about to go to Sibonga town to visit the popular shrine of the Mother Mary at Marian Hills in Barangay Simala.
“Mo visit ta me sa Simala kay hapit na man ang birthday ni mama Mary kauban nako ako tibuok family,” she said.
(We are about to go visit Mama Mary at the shrine in Simala with my whole family).
She said they already heard an announcement from the crew at 10:45 a.m. that their vessel was on docking maneuver when they noticed smoke coming from the engine room.
“We were nervous on what might happen to us, we already wore life jackets in case we have to swim to the shore since it is only near from our location,” she said in Cebuano.
Graciosa said that many passengers were concerned because the vessel carried a delivery truck with Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) from Bohol.
After 30 minutes, Graciosa said they were rescued by another vessel and were brought to shore.
Patenio said there were no reported injured or casualties in the incident.
Patenio added that they have yet to conduct an investigation to determine the damages and the cause of fire.
He said that they were looking into electrical failure at the vessel’s engine room as the possible cause of the fire.
The Cebu Port Authority (CPA) also issued an advisory cancelling all trips bound to Tagbiliran, Bohol from Port of Taloot in Argao on Sunday.
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