Storm pushes ship ashore in Albay
Celso Amo, Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) - July 1, 2013 - 12:00am

LEGAZPI CITY , Philippines   â€” The Vietnamese cargo vessel MV Minh Tuan 68 ran aground Saturday afternoon on the shore of a village here after strong waves brought by Tropical Storm Gorio battered the vessel that was anchored near the coastline.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the Minh Tuan – seized by authorities in September last year for rice smuggling – was docked near Barangay San Roque when it was pushed by waves and drifted to the shallows of the sandy shoreline.

The ship was seized after it was used in the smuggling of at least 94,000 bags of rice at the Legazpi City port on Sept. 2, 2012.

Gorio, packing maximum winds of 65 to 80 kilometers per hour, made landfall in Eastern Samar and later affected the entire Bicol region as well as Marinduque, Quezon including Polilio Island, Leyte and Biliran that were all placed under public storm warning signal No. 2.

Raffy Alejandro, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) regional director in Bicol, and officials of the local PCG, Navy, and the Albay Provincial Security and Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) inspected yesterday the condition of the cargo vessel and its five remaining crewmembers, who were all safe.

“The crewmembers were not able to control the cargo vessel after it ran out of fuel,” said Alejandro.

Lt. Nestor Torre, PCG District-Bicol deputy commander, said strong winds and big waves that hit Albay Gulf battered the ship and pushed it to about one nautical mile from where it was anchored to the shoreline of Barangay San Roque.

Torre said the vessel had no more cargo when it ran aground.

The PCG had placed the ship under restriction since it was seized for violating the Philippine Marine Pollution Convention.

Cris Paller, chair of Bureau of Customs (BoC) auction committee here, said the smuggled rice from the Vietnamese ship is still intact and not rotting.

Paller said the confiscated rice is stored in three local warehouses pending the case filed by the BOC against the cargo’s importers.

“There is regular fumigation to make it safe for human consumption once the case is settled,” said Paller.

Customs Commissioner Ruffy Biazon suspended the auction for the cargo last May 14 after buyers proposed a price ceiling of P88 million against the bureau’s offer of P94 million.

Meanwhile, local PCG rescue teams failed yesterday to tow the ill-fated Vienamese cargo ship.

Commodore Aaron Reconquista, commander of the PCG District in Bicol, said they would try again at noon today during high tide at 12:05 p.m.

Reconquista said that the tugboat they borrowed from the private firm Sunwest Corp. failed to move the 2,999-ton cargo ship after the tide receded.With Rainier Allan Ronda, Cet Dematera

ALBAY GULF ALBAY PROVINCIAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT OFFICE BARANGAY SAN ROQUE BICOL BUREAU OF CUSTOMS CARGO CET DEMATERA COMMODORE AARON RECONQUISTA CRIS PALLER MINH TUAN
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