6 dead as fishing boat catches fire in Cebu

BY

CEBU CITY – Six persons were killed and six others were rescued after a fishing boat caught fire in the sea of Naga City, southern Cebu on Wednesday night, June 5.

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RESCUERS from Coast Guard-Central Visayas unload the bodies of two fishermen who were among the six persons who perished after a fishing boat caught fire off Naga City, southern Cebu on Wednesday night, June 5. (Calvin D. Cordova)

One of the survivors was the skipper of the motor banca which departed from Cawayan Port in Masbate around 6 p.m. on June 2.

Mark Anthony Sollano said one of the engines was being repaired when it exploded around 7:40 p.m.

Sollano admitted that they were carrying six containers and three liquified petroleum gas tanks.

“The incident happened so quickly,” said Sollano.

Petty Officer 1st Class Joel Baring of Coast Guard-Central Visayas said that personnel of a tugboat which happened to be near the area helped rescue the survivors and extinguish the fire.

Baring said they received a report about the incident around 8:20 p.m. Coast Guard personnel aboard one of their aluminum boats rushed to the area to help in the rescue operation.

Four of the fatalities were recovered shortly after the incident.

The search and rescue operation was temporarily suspended due to bad weather, said Baring.

The two other fatalities were recovered around 7 a.m. on Thursday, June 6.

One of the survivors suffered severe burn injuries. The boat skipper was unharmed.

Baring said that according to the skipper, one of the boat’s engines encountered engine trouble around 11 a.m. on Wednesday.

“They’ve been sailing using one engine when they decided to repair the engine that conked out,” said Baring.

Baring said it was possible that those who died were the ones who were repairing the engine when it exploded.

The boat was already half-submerged when rescuing Coast Guard personnel arrived. The six other fishermen were able to survive by swimming towards the tugboat.

The skipper said documents that will prove that they were authorized to sail or conduct fishing activities were among the items that were burned.

“So far, we cannot determine yet if there were lapses or violations because we had just concluded the rescue operation. But we have already contacted the owner of the fishing boat for the investigation,” said Baring.

Baring said that no explosives or any items that may be used for illegal fishing were recovered.

There was no oil spill as the motor banca was powered by diesel fuel.

Baring added that efforts to remove the ill-fated fishing boat from the area were immediately launched.

“We have a unit which went to the area to assess the traffic separation scheme because the banca was considered a hazard for navigation. We conducted immediate coordination to remove the banca from the area,” said Baring.