Death toll in ship collision now 38; 82 still missing

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/18 Aug) —  The death toll from Friday night’s collision of  two ships off  Talisay in Cebu has risen to 38 with 82 passengers still missing.

As of 2:45 p.m .Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard’s (PCG) website said that out of a total of 841 passengers and crew, 38 persons have been confirmed dead while 82 others remain missing.

M/V St. Thomas Aquinas of 2GO Travel which carried 831 passengers including crew plummeted near Lawis Ledge after the collision with M/V Sulpicio Express Siete on Friday evening.

Aquinas, a Manila-bound passenger ship of 2GO Travel which sailed from Nasipit in Agusan del Norte, collided with Davao-bound M/V Sulpicio Express Siete at around 9p.m. Friday, according to the PCG.

Before Nasipit, the ship was in Surigao City where 279 passengers boarded the ship on August 15, including 22 children under two years old, Jojo Dabe, operations manager of 2GO Travel in Surigao City, said.

Couple Necita Ancla, 73 and Anecito Ancla, Jr. 72 of Barangay Taft, Surigao City were among those who did not survive. Their remains are now in the Cosmopolitan Funeral Parlor in Cebu City.

Ronald Ancla sobbed when he learned on Saturday morning that his aunt and uncle were on board the ill-fated ship.

“They are old and it they are slow, how could they survive?” Ronald asked.

He was informed of their death on Saturday afternoon.

Several persons have gathered at the office of 2GO Travel here to inquire about their relatives and friends who boarded the ill-fated ship.

Bebe Yano of Barangay Poblacion in General Luna rushed to inquire about her neighbors.

She found her five neighbors on the survivors’ list: Colito Coro, Jr., Refil Formilles, Rhian Joy Formilles, Jose Peter Mantilla, and Robil Polican.

“Salamat kay okay ra sila tanan. Adto sila sa hotel sa Cebu,” (Thanks they are all safe and sound, they are now in one of the hotels in Cebu),  she said.

In Cebu City,  Cherry Mae Galve has been waiting in Pier 4 in Cebu City since Friday, to inquire about her brother, Reynaldo and sister-in-law Ida.

Reynaldo’s name was not on the survivors’ list but his wife Ida, survived.

Reynaldo, a seaman, and Ida were on their way to Manila to follow-up on documents needed for Reynaldo to return to work.

“It’s more than 24 hours. I don’t know where my brother is,” she said.

“I hope he is okay, I’m confused on what to do,” Cherry told MindaNews in a telephone interview.

Bebe Yano of Barangay Poblacion in General Luna 2GO office in Surigao City on Saturday

The Surigao del Norte Provincial Government is extending financial assistance of P5,000 each to the victims of the sunken ship.

Provincial Administrator Premolito Plaza, said they are now compiling the list of victims from Surigao del Norte.

Dabe said  said 2GO Travel provided for air tickets for Cebu for two members each of the immediate families  of those who boarded the ill-fated ship.

“We paid the ticket for them to confirm and identify their family members,” she said.

Dabe also said one of the survivors, a resident of Mainit town in Surigao del Norte, has returned home. He said the survivor had a minor head injury and upon arrival at the airport here was brought to a private hospital for check-up.

“We are praying wherever they (missing persons) are now, we just hope that they are safe and sound,”  Dabe said. (Roel Catoto / MindaNews)