By Bohol Island News Staff | 01:12 PM August 28, 2019
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said they are still looking for the remaining 24 passengers who are missing as fire engulfed the Dapitan-bound Lite Ferry 16.
Zamboanga del Norte PCG Station Commander LTJG Cherry Rose Manaay said rescue operations are hampered by strong winds and current in the area.
Sh said PCG has yet to investigate the cause of the fire.
She also belied reports that PCG didn’t respond immediately to the distressed ship.
“Hindi po totoo yun na hindi agad kami naka response. Ang layo po namin dito (sa barko) is 4.2 nautical miles. Nakahanap agad kami ng assistance from another vessel which is the Fastcat sila po yung first responder dun sa area. Tumawag agad kami sa barko (Fastcat) na magconduct sila ng rescue operation. At the same time yung barko natin dito na naka dock sa Palauan Port pinagdispatch ka agad pati cargo vessel natin same with motor banca,” Manaay told dyLA.
She added that PCG personnel arrived less than an hour in the area.
“More or less one hour bago nakarating sila sa area considering the weather na napakalaki ng alon at walang signal sa area kung saan yung barko yun din ang mahirap doon,” Manaay added.
Allan Barredo, one of the passengers of another ferry, said their ferry stopped to help rescue passengers who jumped off the vessel on blaze.
He lamented how there was no help from the Philippine Coast Guard in the first four hours of the incident.
“By the way, we are so ill-equipped. We have rescued passengers on board without blankets, shivering… No one from Coast Guard showed up, four hours na,” he said in a Facebook message.
This is the second time in less than a year, that a boat from Lite Shipping Corporation – Lite Ferrie caught fire. On September 2, 2018, their boat, Lite Ferry 28 caught fire while sailing from Tagbilaran City to Argao, Cebu.