296 passengers of Surigao bound ship survive stormy seas

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SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 Dec) — “I told God that I want to spend Christmas with my family in Siargao,” John Erwin Migullas of General Luna town in Siargao Island said after he and 295 other passengers survived the stormy seas Friday aboard M/V Dumaguete from Cebu.

The Cokaliong Shipping Lines’ M/V Dumaguete left Cebu City Thursday night at around 8:30 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. and was expected to arrive at 6 a.m. Friday in Surigao City. The ship arrived past 7 pm..

M/V Dumaguete of Cokaliong Shipping Lines set sail on Thursday evening from Cebu City to Surigao City despite an incoming typhoon. The ship was supposed to arrive at 6 a.m. It docked 13 hours later. Photo taken at Surigao port on Friday evening, 15 December 2017. MindaNews photo by ROEL N. CATOTO

At the port, Helene Cortes Ortuyo, 65, a resident of Carrascal town in Surigao del Sur waited early Friday morning to fetch her daughter Rexy May, and her two-year old grand-daughter, Carlie.

“Grabe na nako nga kabalaka, sigi na gyod ko og ampo nga unta maluwas ra sila” (I was so worried I kept praying they would be saved), Ortuyo told MindaNews Friday night.

Ship captain Roger Flores told MindaNews they were cleared by the Philippine Coast Guard in Cebu. “All I can say is we were cleared,” he said.

Tropical depression Urduja was slowly approaching Samar on Thursday morning. In its severe weather bulletin issued at 5 p.m. Thursday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) raised storm Signal No. 1 over northern Cebu, including Bantayan Island, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Masbate, Romblon, Northern Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Capiz, Aklan, and northern Iloilo.

“Almost all passengers threw up,” said Kate Owen Smith of London.

Smith complained the crew did not aid passengers who were seasick. “They should have given plastic bags for those who were throwing up,” she said.

Another passenger, Ritchel Fortus, a Surigao City-based entrepreneur who was one of the passengers, said “the boat navigated in another direction to avoid a possible mishap.” Fortus said they sought shelter in Camiguin island, had breakfast at 11 a.m. and lunch at 4 p.m.

The crew cheered as they stepped out of the gangplank. “Yey! Grabe ka dagko ang balod. Survive ra kaayo mi” (Waves were so hug. But we all survived), Jhamor Cuerda, a member of the crew said.

Tony Espina, manager of Cokaliong branch here thanked the crew for bringing the passengers safely to their destination. (Roel N. Catoto / MindaNews)

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