PCG-7: One dead, 1 missing after fire hit ferry off Bohol waters
CEBU CITY, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard in Central Visayas (PCG-7) confirmed that a male passenger died while another remained missing when a fire struck a fast craft that was sailing within the seawaters of Bohol on Sunday, June 26.
PCG-7 spokesperson, Lieutenant Junior Grade (LTJG) Krysta Bergantin, said the fire that engulfed M/V Mama Mary-Cloe claimed the life of Adolfo Rañola, 53, a resident of Trinidad town in Bohol.
Rañola was among the 157 passengers on board the M/V Mama Mary-Cloe of NNO Shipping that was bound for Bato in Leyte.
It departed Ubay, Bohol around 11 a.m. on Sunday, June 26 with eight crew members. However, around 1 p.m., while sailing within the vicinity of Tugas and Tilmobo islands in Bohol Province, the sea vessel sent a distress signal to the Coast Guard Substation in Ubay, Bohol.
Mark Vincente Sequisa, one of the passengers of M/V Mama Mary-Cloe, said that they already noticed the vessel’s engine emitting smoke even while it was still docked in the Port of Ubay.
The engine was turned off briefly. When it was turned on again, it no longer emitted black smoke, prompting the crew and the shipping company to continue its trip, he added.
“Wala pa mi kalayo sa Bohol gyud sir, makita pa gyud ang island sa Bohol, didto nahitabo ang kuan,” Seguisa said.
(We were not yet far from Bohol. We can still see the island of Bohol when the incident happened.)
Seguisa said that they believed the engine of the vessel overheated, which caused the fire.
“Nag-aso, kusog ang aso. Giingnan pa gani mi sa tripulante nga relax lang kuno mo,” he added.
(There was thick black smoke coming from the engine. And one of the crewmen even told us to relax.)
But when they could no longer endure the smoke coming from the engine, Seguisa said they decided to jump off the vessel while wearing their life jackets.
Luckily, some fisherfolks near the area, and a nearby fast craft bound for Hilongos, Leyte, rescued them.
Seguisa said they visited Bohol for a tour, and that they were on their way home to Leyte when the incident happened. As of the moment, Seguisa said the survivors had yet to meet a representative from the shipping company for coordination.
Initial reports from the PCG-7 showed that at least 99 survivors were already brought ashore to the Port of Hilongos; 25 on Tugas Island in Pres. Carlos P. Garcia town; and 34 on Gaus Island.
Authorities from the Coast Guard continue to conduct search and rescue operations as of this writing. They also said the cause of the fire was still under investigation.
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