Passengers of an ill-fated boat watched helplessly in horror as their boat slowly sank off Sulu on Maundy Thursday while the skipper ignored their repeated pleas to the to dump the vessel’s cement cargo to save them from sinking.
This was the initial report made on Friday by Col. Allan Arojado, commander of the Joint Task Group Sulu, to the Western Mindanao Command (WesMinCom), on the incident involving MPB Wilayza that sank off Pata and Tapul Islands. Five people died in the mishap.
Quoting survivors, Arogado said the boat had apparently been overloaded as it was carrying a substantial amount of cargo that included cement bags, when it left port in Sulu.
MPB Wilayza was heading for Tapul Island when the vessel encountered the mishap.
Before the crew and passengers realized what was happening, waters started to seep into the boat. The passengers, seeing vessel was in peril of sinking, pleaded to the boat’s skipper to throw to the sea the bags of cement cargo. In desperation, they even offered to pay damages to the owner of the cement bags.
But instead of giving in to the appeal from passengers, the boat’s skipper, who was not immediately identified, reportedly got angry.
Of the five fatalities, four were members of one family. Fifteen were rescued and brought to the hospital but were immediately released as they did not suffer any injury, Arojado said.
The military and the office of Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Totoh Tan II have ordered the search and rescue of passengers who are still missing.
The boat was carrying more than 50 passengers and crew members.