Three Ferry Boats Capsize Off Panay, Killing 31
Three passenger motorboats capsized off the Philippine city of Iloilo, Panay in foul weather Saturday, sending 96 passengers and crewmembers over the side. 31 people died in the accidents, according to Iloilo city officials.
The wooden outrigger motorboats Keziah 2 and Chi-Chi capsized in a squall on Saturday afternoon, and a third vessel, the Jenny Vince, followed suit a few hours afterwards.
The search and recovery mission for victims of the capsizings ended on Tuesday, and all passengers are now accounted for. The Philippines' Maritime Industry Authority has launched an investigation into the casualty, and it temporarily shut down all passenger motorboat operations on the short route between Iloilo and Guimaras Island as a precaution. Two larger ro/ros will take up the service on a short-term basis.
Commodore Allan dela Vega, the commander of the local Philippine Coast Guard district, said that the boats' crews may not have expected a squall. “When the boats left port, there was good weather,” he told the Philippine Star.
The accident has the potential to affect tourism for the region. In response to the casualty, the UK Foreign Office warned British nationals to stay away from Philippine domestic water transportation altogether. "Avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats if possible, particularly in the rainy season (June-December)," the ministry wrote. "They are often overloaded, may lack necessary lifesaving equipment or be inadequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly and maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited."