By Mike Crismundo
BUTUAN CITY – A total of 20 passengers who wanted to be at home during Christmas celebration were rescued by a team of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) after the seacraft’s engine encountered mechanical trouble, buffeted by heavy rains, strong winds, and huge waves brought about by Typhoon “Ursula” off Surigao City-Dinagat Islands on Tuesday afternoon.
All the 20 passengers on board the Dinagat-bound boat were safe and unhurt, PCG report there said.
However, the PCG-Surigao del Norte-Surigao City is set to investigate on how the boat managed to sail despite of warning and halt order issued by the PCG since Sunday.
Unconfirmed reports said the boat sneaked out of Surigao City using a different route amid the ban on sea travel earlier issued by PCG because of the typhoon.
The boat carrying 20 passengers encountered engine trouble, buffeted by strong winds, heavy rains and big waves brought about by typhoon “Ursula” on Tuesday.
The boat’s engine failed off the coast of Hikdop Island, near Surigao City port at past 3 p.m. Tuesday, prompting the crew to send distress calls to the PCG and other rescuers from San Jose town of PDI.
Before 5 p.m. of that same day, PCG rescue team, with the PCGs aluminum rescue boat reached the area and rescued the 20 passengers of the boat.
The rescued passengers were transferred to the MCS 3005 PCG patrol vessel then brought to Lisondra area, an island barangay of Surigao City.
All of the passengers were rescued unhurt, Surigao del Norte PCG Station-Commander Lawrence Roque told newsmen.
The passengers of the boat wanted to go home to Dinagat Island for the Christmas celebration, it said.
In a related development, a private-owned pump boat sank off the town of San Jose, also in PDI on Monday, authorities reported.
The PDI Provincial Information Office (PIO) said the pump boat loaded with seven passengers traveled from Surigao City to San Jose town when rammed by big waves.
The boat sank at around 1:45 p.m. on the same day, report said.
PCG- Dinagat Islands personnel together with the members of the rescue team from the province’s disaster risk reduction management council and the Bureau of Fire Protection there were immediately sent to conduct rescue operations and the seven passengers were rescued at around 3:30 p.m. on the same day, it said.
Meanwhile, at least 116 cargo trucks, cars and other vehicles stretching more than a kilometer long were stranded in Barangay Lipata, Surigao City while Ferry boats bound for Visayas region were also halted so with cargo operations at the Lipata port because of the danger posed by the typhoon Ursula.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 108 passengers were stranded at the Eva M. Macapagal Baseport and Lipata Ferry Terminal Port in Surigao City.