Surigao Norte mayor still missing in sea tragedy

Fourteen passengers were killed,  66 others were rescued and 19 are still missing, including Mayor Arlencita Navarro, wife of former Surigao del Norte Rep. Constantino Navarro, Jr.

Survivor Ryan Gahinhin, 25, said the mayor, who was sitting beside the boat’s “pilot,” failed to surface when the ferry went down.

Gahinhin told reporters it took only a few seconds for the ferry to sink from the time the big waves hit it.

Gonzalo Magno Jr, Surigao City’s Philippine Coast Guard station commander, said the rescue team is still scouring the seas to possibly recover more bodies or survivors.

Around 100 persons, including crew members, were reportedly aboard the passenger ferry which also loaded with 300 bags of cements when it sank off the coast of
Surigao City at about 2:25 in the afternoon of November 25.

Records at the Surigao del Norte Disaster Coordinating Center here showed 42 persons were not in the boat’s list of passengers. Out of 66 survivors, 31 of them were not in the  manifesto.

Magno said based on their passenger manifesto, only 48 passengers, excluding 10 boat crew members, were on board when his men conducted the inspection. He said the climate in Surigao was unpredictable but the weather was fair when the incident happened.  

Missing are Renato Burdeos; Thelma Burdeos;  Jessie Earl Burdeos, 2; Eric Camilotes;  
Leah Compra, 47; Geremie Comelon; Sherlyn Dantes; Vicente Donoso; Agustin Espanto; Carlo Flores; Golo Michelle;  Judil Linogao, 8; Henry Luna; Romualdo Paqueo, 46; Josie Salipong, 35;  Maricel Toldo; Milka Jane Toldo, 7 and Michael Toldo, 12

The report also listed the names of the bodies recovered: Del Carmen councilor Juanita Comon, 65;  the mayor’s security officer, Percillano Jornales, 56; Elena Jornales, 40;  Evangeline Sumando, 45; Estelito Comboy, 70; Karen Ann Jornales, 15; Rogelia Paqueo, 46; Kenny Ken Madrio, 5; Arlene Sulima, 35; Karen Claire Rondes; teacher Elsa Salucop; Enrica Nier; Roselyn Golo, 30; and Froilan Dulpina.

Surigao del Norte Governor Robert Lyndon Barbers said he will conduct a deeper investigation on the incident.  He also assured the relatives of the victims that the rescue operations would continue.

Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casurra, who led the rescue team, told reporters that the City’s Quick Action Response Team and the Coast Guard personnel have continued their operation but “up to this time, the operations have yielded negative results.”

Rescue operations, he said, would still continue despite huge waves and continuous heavy rains.