DAPITAN CITY, Zamboanga del Norte[UPDATED, 8:50p p.m.]– Four persons died after a roll-on/on roll-off (RoRo) vessel from southern Cebu caught fire while at sea off Dapitan City on Wednesday, officials said.
Dr. Rolito Cataluña, City Health Officer, identified the four fatalities as Danilo Gomez, described as between 50 to 55-years-old; an infant named Chloe Labisig; and Ronald G. Heneral from Sirawai town, Zamboanga del Norte, who was brought by fishermen to Selinog Island together with another unidentified fatality.
Cataluña said that at least 111 passengers and 30 crew members have been rescued, while 39 are still missing as of posting time. At least seven of the crew remained with MV Lite Ferry 16, he added.
Earlier, Lt. Junior Grade Cherry Rose Manaay, Zamboanga del Norte Coast Guard Station commander, said the M/V Lite Ferry 16 had 150 passengers and 37 crew members when it left Samboan, Cebu.
After given food and medical checkup, Manaay said the rescued passengers were transferred to a hotel in nearby Dipolog City.
Meanwhile, some of the rescued passengers complained that the Coast Guard allegedly failed to provide assistance.
“Unsaon man nila pagtabang, pumpboat ra man nang ilang sakyanan para dinhi (But how can the Coast Guard help, they only have a pumpboat to use in this busy and important route),” claimed a visibly-terrified passenger who asked not to be identified.
Manaay, who was appointed spokesperson of the Task Force Lite Ferry 16 that was created following the incident, failed to respond to calls seeking comment.
In an earlier interview, Manaay said the PCG had done its part by asking other shipping companies to rescue M/V Lite Ferry 16. Gualberto Laput and Raymond Carl Dela Cruz / PNA – northboundasia.com