80 passengers rescued off Basilan

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/28 February) – Eighty passengers were rescued from a vessel that listed Sunday night off Basilan province while sailing to this city, a coast guard official disclosed Monday.

The incident took place hours after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) issued Sunday a gale warning in Southern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao through the Philippine Information Agency (PIA).

Commander Perfecto Eden, Zamboanga Coast Guard Station chief said the vessel, M/V Katrina 5, was sailing to this city from Jolo, Sulu when it was battered by big waves near Pilas Island, Hadji Muhtamad town, Basilan.

Eden said the vessel’s captain decided to issue an order to abandon ship as efforts to safely maneuver proved futile since the ship’s hull had cracked and the engine room was flooded with seawater.

He said a commercial fishing vessel that happened to be near where M/V Katrina 5 listed came to the rescue of the passengers.

The passengers were later transferred to M/V Queen Emilia of the Zamboanga City-based Ever Lines Shipping Company that passed near Pilas Island in sailing from Jolo to this city.

They safely arrived early Monday at the port of Zamboanga, Eden said.

The ship’s captain and its 10 crewmembers were left behind to try to salvage M/V Katrina 5 that remained afloat although it had listed.

On Sunday afternoon, the Pagasa through the PIA issued an urgent gale warning as a low pressure area was building up at the eastern seaboard from Southern Luzon, Samar, Leyte and Mindanao.

The Philippine Coast Guard, following Pagasa’s advice, had warned small vessels and fisher folk not to sail out to sea. (MindaNews)