(UPDATE) Tragedy at sea as passenger boat catches fire in Quezon

Published May 23, 2022, 10:44 AM

by Martin Sadongdong

A fast craft vessel carrying 126 passengers and eight crew members went ablaze while sailing at sea in Real, Quezon on Monday morning, May 23, killing at least seven individuals, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported.

MV Mercraft 2 catches fire while sailing at sea in Real, Quezon on May 23, 2022. (Courtesy of Vincent Caseres via Philippine Coast Guard)

Commodore Armando Balilo, PCG spokesperson, said fast craft vessel MV Mercraft 2 caught fire around 6:30 a.m. while travelling at the vicinity waters off Baluti Island in Brgy. Cawayan – approximately 1,000 yards from the port of Real.

MV Mercraft 2 left Polilio Island around 5 a.m. en route to Real town. The vessel is owned and operated by one Erwel Merania who is based in Batangas.

As of 10 a.m., Balilio said seven individuals were killed in the incident: five females and two males. All of them were civilian passengers.

They were identified as Viola Impreso, 47; Marivic Samareta, 61; Edna Balanac, 64; Mina Enciso, 57; Charito Escareces, 57; Crisanto Debelles, 51; and Andy Tejares, 54.

Meanwhile, 127 others were rescued including 24 individuals who received immediate medical assistance due to various injuries and sent to hospital. The PCG has coordinated with the local government of Real, Quezon to assist the injured individuals.

Among those rescued was the boat captain identified as John Lerry D. Escareces. He was sent to an undisclosed hospital after sustaining injuries, the PCG said.

MV Mercraft 2 catches fire while sailing at sea in Real, Quezon on May 23, 2022. (Courtesy of Philippine Coast Guard)

Investigators have yet to determine the cause of fire but initial investigation revealed it started from the engine room of the vessel.

The fire was declared under control at 9:57 a.m. while the distressed vessel was towed to the shoreline of Baluti Island.

The PCG said the vessel was not overloaded since it only carried 134 persons at the time of the incident while it has a maximum capacity of 186 persons.

Three PCG search and rescue (SAR) teams, two roll on-roll off (ro-ro) vessels, and four motorized bancas (MBCAs) were deployed for the rescue operations.

The PCG has also activated a Crisis Management Committee “to monitor, manage, and advise” Coast Guard District Southern Tagalog regarding the operations.

As of 12 noon, all 134 passengers and crew members were accounted for, according to PCG.