ALAMINOS CITY, Pangasinan: Six passengers of a commercial boat, including minors and senior citizens, suffered burns after a sea vessel caught fire while sailing along Sitio Inansuana toward the Hundred Islands National Park on Sunday night.
Police investigators here refused to release the names of the injured, saying the chief of police, Supt. Benjamin Ariola, barred them from giving details of the incident to protect the image of the Hundred Islands National Park.
It was learned that most of the injured boat passengers are related to one another while some are employees from Mabalacat, Pampanga.
According to an Alaminos City police report submitted to Pangasinan Police Provincial Director, Senior Supt. Ronald Oliver-Lee, the passengers were on board the MBCA Allan-7 operated by Arnold Aglibot when its engine overheated around 7:30 p.m. causing the unused premium gasoline stocked beside the engine to ignite, resulting in a fire.
The passengers who did not know how to swim were left on board the boat while the others were able to jump into the water and call for help.
A motorboat passing near the area immediately came to the rescue and brought the passengers to the wharf where they were transported to the hospital by staff of the City Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council.
The six unidentified passengers who sustained minor and serious burns remain confined at the Alaminos Doctors Hospital.
A hospital nurse also refused to release the victims’ names to media in compliance with the instructions of the police chief.
Some survivors claimed their personal belongings such as watches, cameras, cellphones, jewelry and other valuables are missing. They said they had noticed the unusual sound of the boat’s engine and that the vessel was moving very slowly.
The Manila Times tried to contact Ariola but a staff in his office said he was not available.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard started its own investigation of the incident to determine the liability of the boat operator and owner.
A Coast Guard personnel said the boat can only accommodate eight passengers.