Misloading, not overloading, was the cause of the sinking of MB Nirvana off Ormoc that left at least 62 people dead, according to the Maritime Industry Authority (Marina).
Marina chief Maximo Mejia, Jr. said there was no overloading of passengers even if the vessel was carrying more than 200 people, more than its allowed passenger capacity of 178 people.
“There was no overloading as such in terms of weight. There was misloading on part of owner or operator,” Mejia told congressmen investigating the accident.
The vessel was also carrying 100 sacks of rice and 100 bags of cement.
“M/V Kim Nirvana was not overloaded in spite of more than 20 extra passengers. It could carry 100 tons. It had 50 tons that day. Even if 178 carabaos were on board, the boat would not sink,” Mejia said.
But Muntinlupa City Rep. Rodolfo Biazon, former Chief of the Armed Forces, did not buy Marina’s argument.
The main factor is the load. When you load the cargo topside, the center of gravity goes up, the stability of boat is affected. But I cannot accept that for a boat designed for 170 passengers, you would load more than 200 [people]plus cargo,” Biazon said.
Mejia admitted that Marina phased out wooden-hulled vessels like MB Nirvana but circular 190 issued in 2003 revoked such policy.
“Marina decided to phase out wooden-hull vessels but was instructed to defer it as it would be uneconomical and disruptive,” he added.
The Nirvana tragedy resulted in the grounding of all wooden hull vessels.
According to Philippine Insurers and Reinsurers Associate officer Michael Rellosa, the families of those who perished will receive P200,000 in insurance but passengers who were not in the manifest will not receive any benefit.