Nine are confirmed dead and 30 people remain missing following the capsize and sinking of the Aboitiz line’s 7,268-tonne ro-ro Superferry 9 off Zamboanga on Sunday morning. Some 931 of the vessel’s 968 passengers crew and sea marshalls, have been rescued. The vessel has a capacity of 1,120 passengers and crew.
The incident comes a little more that a year after hundreds died in a similar incident involving the Sulcipio Lines Princess of the Stars.
Superferry 9 departed General Santo City at about 0845 on Saturday evening. According to passenger interviews with local media the vessel began to list to starboard at about midnight on Saturday. The vessel’s master, CaptainJose G. Yap, reported the vessel listing at 0230 Sunday morning and told passengers to put on lifejackets.
After attempting to correct the list, Yap ordered abandon ship at 0440. Philippine navy and coastguard and two merchant ships, MV Myriad, and MV Ocean Integrity responded to the emergency.
Evacuation of passengers into lifeboats, liferafts and attending vessels was complete by about 0840, followed by the crew.
Superferry 9 finally sank a little after 1000 Sunday morning.
The cause of the lost of stability remains unknown. Although the northern part of the Philippines were being hit by heavy storms weather in the area in which Superferry 9 ran into trouble has been described as ‘fair’. In the past shifting cargo aboard ferries, a result of poor lashing, has led to listing and capsize.
There have been reports of a ‘hole in the hull’ but similar report regarding Princess of the Stars turned out to be thruster openings.
A Board of Marine Inquiry has been called to establish blame for the incident – the Philippines has no independent maritime accident investigation agency or professionally-trained investigators.
Sadly, the country’s poor reputation for maritime safety remains undiminished and apparently insoluble.