5 More Bodies Found, Ferry Deaths Now 22

Article excerpt

Byline: YUL MALICSE

Five more bodies were found and retrieved yesterday afternoon by joint search and rescue (SAR) teams of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP), and Philippine Navy Special Warfare Group (SWAG) from the burned Super Ferry 14 of the William Gothong and Aboitiz shipping firm, which remains grounded at Sisiman Bay, Mariveles, Bataan.

The latest find brings to 22 the number of fatalities in the early Feb. 27 dawn fire tragedy that wrecked the 10,000-gross ton "roll on, roll off" (RORO) passenger-cargo vessel, while it was in the vicinity of El Fraile near the Corregidor Island, and bound for Bacolod and Cagayan de Oro cities.

Commodore Wilfredo Tamayo, overall SAR operations commander, said the latest to be retrieved were two men, two women, and one whose gender could not be determined as the body was beyond recognition, including its sex organ.

As of press time, the number of missing or unaccounted passengers was 112. The total number of survivors was 757. The ship departed from Manila carrying a total of 899 persons 745 passengers and 154 crew at about 11 p.m. last March 26.

Yesterday, PCG Commandant Vice Admiral Arthur N. Gosingan said the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) subpoenaed the officers and crew members of the ship headed by Capt. Ceferino Manzo, skipper; survivors, and officials of William Gothong and Aboitiz Shipping Corp., owners of Super Ferry 14, for the initial hearings set on Thursday, March 11.

Meanwhile, the PCG public information office headed by Lt. Arman Balilo yesterday released to the public the names of positively identified bodies recovered from the burned ship.

They are Cristy Rubico, 24; Clynn Paculba, 16; Marilou Pamonag, Perlita Canasan, Emilia Asumbrado, and Benito Asumbrado.

The fatalities were positively identified by their relatives, said Balilo, adding that "as far as the PCG is concerned, these were the only ones identified."

Gosingan said that the other recovered bodies could not be identified by claimants because they were disfigured, some bodies were cut in half, headless, armless, legless, has no sex organs.

This was confirmed by Tamayo who added that some of the bodies were skeletons.

Tamayo, along with BFP special rescue unit (SRU) head Chief Inspector Jose Embang, and BFP senior investigator Chief Inspector Aguto, said they decided to break the a big portion of the ships portside (left area) by way of cutting it to have an opening of two feet by 12 feet in size, so they could penetrate into the area where the bodies were found, which they lifted and moved transferred to PCG seacrafts who brought these to Manila.

The six identified recovered bodies were brought to LP Vaszuez Funeral Parlor, Tamayo said. …