Tuesday, August 17, 2010

1 dead, 12 missing in ship sinking

By Delfin T. Mallari

PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER, TUESDAY, AUGUST 10, 2010

THE CAPTAIN of a cargo vessel that sank off Romblon in
the wee hours of Saturday and two of his crew were
rescued by local fishermen yesterday, said the Coast Guard.

Lt. Commander Armand Balilo said Capt. Joselito Cortejos,
skipper of SF Freighter and crane operator Jerry Cortez
were found along the shoreline of General Luna, Quezon,
while the vessel's assistant engineer Joseph Jabonete was
rescued along the shoreline of Catanauan town.

"They were rescued by local fishermen in the area on Monday
morning," Balilo told the Inquirer by phone yesterday. He
said the three men were brought to General Luna General
Hospital in Quezon for medical treatment.

Rescuers have also found the body of another crew member
but Balilo said they could not yet release the name of
the first confirmed fatality as the family has yet to be
notified.

Rescue
Search and rescue operations continued for the 12 missing
crew of the vessel, which sank after it encountered engine
trouble and was engulfed by big waves off Don Hermanas
Island in Romblon.

The Philippine Navy has deployed its biggest ship and three
search planes to help in the search and rescue of the crew
of SF Freighter.

At 1:20 p.m. yesterday, BRP Raja Humabon manned by a crew of
nine officers and 41 enlisted personnel sailed to Dos
Hermanas Island in Romblon to assists in search and rescue
operations for SF Freigther, said Navy spokesman, Marine
Col. Edgard Arevalo.

He said the BRP Raja Humabon, under the command of Capt.
Adelius Bordado, is the biggest Navy vessel thus far at 306
feet and 36 feet in length and breadth, respectively.

"The focus of the search will be the vicinity of Dos Hermanas
Island in Romblon. The expanded search area is now 900 square
nautical miles, taking into account the drift, the prevailing
weather condition and other data available," he said.

The Navy also palced on standby a diesel fast vessel with a
compliment of eight enlisted personnel and a six-man team of
navy Special Operations Unit (Navy Seal) "for immediate
dispatch as soon as sea conditions improve," Arevalo added.

Also on Monday at 1:30 p.m., a two-engine search plane was
deployed to the area after two smaller search planes that
took off at 10:30 a.m. aborted their flights due to strong
winds.

Safety
"While time is literally ticking, the two Cessna planes had
to abort their flight for search mission due to strong winds
critical to the safety of such aircraft. They were put on
standby until the weather improves," Arevalo said.

He said in lieu of the single-engine Cessna planes, a
Philippine Navy Islander (PNI 312) aircraft was deployed to
the search area.

"While we are yearning to search and rescue the crew of the
missing vessels, we would like also to ensure the safety of
rescuers so they will be able to accomplish their mission,"
Arevalo explained.

In Lucena City, PCG Lucena station commander Lt. Joel Ogorida
said rescuers found the three survivors and the body of
another crew member still wearing life jackets.

Petty Officer 1 Leopoldo Robledo, PCG detachment commander in
Barangay Dalahican here, said the rescued crew members were
taken care of by doctors in General Luna and Catanauan.

Robledo said Cortejos told him that the vessel had 16 crewmen
when it sanks in the waters off Goto Point near Bonton Island
in Romblon.

"When the ship was battered by strong waves and before it was
about to sink, the ship captain ordered his crew to abandon
ship. He (ship captain) said all the 16 crewmen were able to
snatch life jackets before diving into the sea," Robledo said.

He said the vessel was loaded with steel products and was
sailing towards Cebu.

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