ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/10 June) – Nineteen persons, including six crew members, , were injured when a wooden hull ferry loaded with drums of gasoline from Malaysia, caught fire in the province of Tawi-Tawi on Saturday, officials said.
Senior Supt. Rodelio Jocson , Tawi-Tawi police chief, said the incident happened at around 12:30 p.m. Saturday in Sipangkot, an island barangay in the municipality of Sitangkai.
Only the six crew members of the Sulu-registered M/L Nursiba were immediately identified: Berhamin Sarri, Aldeimas Lajid, Salulu Suhod, Madjilal Sidar, Hadjirul Maldisan, and Asali Almahud.
They were transported to this city by a commercial ferry Saturday evening, arrived here Sunday noon and were immediately taken to the burn unit of the Zamboanga City Medical Center.
Tawi-Tawi Maritime Industry Authority Abubakar Unnoh, who accompanied the victims to Zamboanga City, said what happened was “purely an accident.”
Unnoh said the fire broke out after a liquefied petroleum gas tank exploded on board.
The 13 other victims were admitted at the Datu Halun Sakilan Memorial Hospital in Bongao, the capital town of Tawi-Tawi.
Jocson disclosed that fire broke out at the vessel’s engine room while it was moored at the port of Sipangkot. The crewmen were injured when they tried to put off the fire, he said.
Lajid said they were about to finish loading drums of gasoline for delivery to Sulu when the fire broke out. Lajid said he is still awaiting reports as to how man drums of gasoline were to be delivered to Sulu.
He said the gasoline was bought at a cheaper price in Malaysia and taken to the island barangay of Sipangkot for distribution.
A liter of premium gasoline is reportedly being sold in Tawi-Tawi at P46, cheaper by at least P7 than Zamboanga City’s P53.69 a liter.
Lt. Senior Grade Lamberny Ikan, Tawi-Tawi coastguard commander, said they had been warning the skippers of passenger-cargo ferries that it is prohibited for them to transport flammable cargo like petroleum, oil and lubricant products but some still insist on transporting them. (MindaNews)