SUDDEN WINDS CAUSE DAMAGE
A motorized boat carrying 16 people, including a 43-year-old Australian tourist, sank off Lapu-Lapu City after strong waves slammed the vessel as it was docking near a Mactan Island resort to unload its passengers and cargo yesterday.
Life vests, quick thinking and the rapid response of onlookers saved the day as no one was reported severely injured following the mishap.
Commander Agapito Bibat, Cebu station commander of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said that the 13 passengers and three crew members of MB Nathan Express were all safe after they quickly disembarked from the boat just before it sank at the Hilton Wharf in Barangay Punta Engaño at around 2 p.m. The boat originally carried 80 passengers from Olango Island.
Freddie Igot, the boat captain, said that they were docking at the port in Punta Engaño when strong waves started to violently rock the vessel after a sudden blast of strong winds.
Igot stopped the 13 remaining passengers from disembarking so that he could bring the boat some distance away from the port to avoid hitting the wharf.
But just as the vessel was moving backwards, big waves sent more seawater splashing into the boat, causing its engine to stop as it slowly started to sink.
At this point, people watching from the port, right across the boat, immediately threw ropes towards its remaining passengers and crew to moor the vessel safely to shore.
As the boat neared the port again, the passengers jumped off from the vessel to finally get to land while sustaining minor scratches and bruises. A medical crew and an ambulance waited at the pier to assist.
MB Nathan Express is owned by Cyrus Eyas, the barangay captain of San Vicente, Olango Island.
As all this was happening, another vessel owned by Eyas, a barge, drifted to the shore hitting a pile of soft drinks that were unloaded from the sinking MB Nathan Express.
The blast of strong winds and the scattered rain showers at around 2 p.m. yesterday surprised the public.
The Mactan office of the state weather bureau Pagasa said Cebu province and the rest of the Visayas experienced the effects of a trough.
Al Quiblat, chief meteorologist at Pagasa-Mactan, said a trough is the extended part of the low pressure area (LPA) which was located yesterday at the northern portion of the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR).
The trough brought two types of clouds: the thunderstorm cloud and the middle clouds, which brought the rains.
A thunderstorm warning affecting Cebu province was issued by Pagasa yesterday morning.
Aside from the sinking of MB Nathan in Punta Engaño, the strong winds at around 2 p.m. that were brought about by the thunderstorm also caused a vessel in Naga City to run aground, delayed sea travels, capsized pumpboats in Bohol and toppled down sign boards and trees across the region.
Metro Ferries that carries passengers from Lapu-Lapu City to Pier 3 in mainland Cebu was ordered to temporary stop its operations until the weather cleared at around 3 p.m.
Though there were a few delays, the Coast Guard said that there were no reported cancellation of trips yesterday since there was also no gale warning issued by Pagasa.
In Naga City, southern Cebu, a cargo vessel anchored in Barangay Poblacion drifted towards the baywalk due to strong winds brought about by the trough.
Photos sent to Cebu Daily News by the Naga City government showed the vessel, Unilink 2, stuck near pillars of an unfinished port.
In nearby Bohol province, three fishermen were rescued after their motorized boats capsized at the height of the trough yesterday.
Insp. Eraño Regidor, chief of police of the town of Pres. Carlos P. Garcia, said that the fishermen got caught in a thunderstorm while they were on their way back to the shore from fishing off the waters in Barangay Kabangkalan.
No one was reported missing or dead but Regidor said they sent out word to the other barangays to report to them any missing persons.
Power outages also hit the towns of Candijay, Balilihan, Catigbian and Clarin in Bohol; but power was restored within fifteen minutes.
In Barangay Talamban, strong winds uprooted a Narra tree along Highway 777 which fell into a nearby house.
No one was reported hurt in that incident, said City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia.
However, a barangay electrician was rushed to the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC) for treatment after he was severely injured while trying to fix wires damaged by the strong winds and rains at around 2 p.m.
Isiah Tapis was sent to fix damaged wires along Modesta Gaisano St., Barangay Guadalupe after residents in the area called for barangay assistance when strong winds damaged some wires attached to a roadside electric post.
“He touched the wire hoping to bring it away from the road. He did not know that it was a live wire,” Gerard Reyes, Tapis’s brother-in-law, said in Cebuano.
Reyes told Cebu Daily News that Tapis was in critical condition.
Regina Aguilar, an executive of a company located at Cebu Business Park, said strong winds shattered one of two glass doors in a nearby office.
“It was so strong that our guard had to hold our door real tight so it won’t open. We thought there was a hurricane coming, though we’re not sure if that’s even possible in Cebu City,” Aguilar said.
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