Fifty passengers were rescued by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) after a wooden boat turned sideways off Bongao, Tawi-Tawi Wednesday.
Lt. Euphraim Jayson Diciano, commander of PCG-Bongao Station, said they received a distress call from the captain of ML Nurhidzra past 12 p.m. asking for immediate rescue.
Courtesy of Tawi-Tawi Rep. Ruby Sahali
Diciano said that based on the boat’s captain account, they encountered steering difficulties a few minutes after they left Bongao pier heading to Languyan Island.
He said the boat’s steering cable snagged when he tried to maneuver the vessel away from the shallow rocky area.
Diciano added that the erratic gusts made the situation worse.
The ill-fated passenger vessel drifted near Sitio Suba Manangkay in the village of Lapid-Lapid, hitting a boulder, causing severe damage at the port side.
Minutes later, water started to fill the cargo haul, causing the vessel to go sideways.
“Good thing ay merong Coast Guard on board, personnel siya ng Coast Guard Languyan, pasahero din siya, siya iyung nag-assist doon, at siya din ang nagbigay ng number na tawagan yung station," Diciano said.
Several fishermen also helped rescue some of the passengers, minutes before the rescue unit of the PCG arrived in the area.
The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office also responded and assisted the rescued passengers.
All 50 passengers were accounted for, including the 10 crew members.
Most of the cargo was also recovered.