Sea vessel catches fire while traversing Tawi-tawi waters

A member of the Naval Task Group Forward Support Medical Team attends to one of the rescued passengers of a vessel that caught fire in the waters of Tawi-tawi on Sunday (15 May 2022). Photo courtesy of Naval Task Group-Tawi-tawi

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews / 17 May) – A vessel traversing the seas of Tawi-tawi on Sunday caught fire after developing engine trouble, causing the 13 passengers on board to jump into the water, according to the Naval Forces Western Mindanao (NFWM).

Luckily for the passengers, Philippine Marines stationed at Batu-batu in Panglima Sugala town in Tawi-tawi came to their rescue, said Lt. Chester Ross Cabaltera, NFWM spokesman. The fire reportedly occurred when the vessel was between Mantabuan and Banaran islands within Sapa-sapa, about 30 kms away from where the Marines’ base.

Cabaltera said the small vessel developed engine trouble, then triggered a spark, causing it to overheat. Then a fire ensued, causing panic and fear among the passengers.

He said the Marines, after receiving a text message, immediately sped towards the area described by the concerned citizen who reported the incident.

The Marines ferried the rescued Tawi-tawi residents to Lamion Wharf in the capital municipality of Bongao where they were medically attended by the Naval Task Group’s Forward Support Medical Team, Cabaltera said.

Approximate location of the sea mishap. Map courtesy of Google

The passengers apparently belonged to two families – the Marings and the Taytings. On the Maring side were Sukarno, 72 years old; Sitti Selfa, 37; Nurfaiza, 31; Salizada, 27; Ridwan, 21; Hudayfi, 14; Rosita, 6; and Ubayda, 4. The Taytings were identified as Nelson, 50; Nenyang, 45; Toing, 16; Nursaliha, 2; and Alagib, 1.

The eight Marings and five Taytings were declared by the NTG’s Medical Team to be in good physical condition, and were received by their respective relatives in Bongao. 

Marine Brig. Gen. Romeo Racadio, commander of the 2nd Marine Brigade and NTG-Tawi-tawi, expressed his relief that the 13 passengers were saved, adding that the Marines are “always on watch and ready to respond anytime and anywhere to save people’s lives.”

Cabaltera said that while incidents as this do not happen often, he advised Tawi-tawi residents to be careful in the sea. (Frencie Carreon / MindaNews)