Search and rescue for grounded barge’s crew terminated

Evelyn Macairan (The Philippine Star) - May 3, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) yesterday terminated the search and rescue operations for the seven crewmembers of the LCT Cebu Great Ocean that ran aground during the onslaught of Typhoon Bising in Surigao del Norte last month.

Coast Guard Surigao del Norte station chief Elaine Pangilinan said the team tasked to search for barge captain Mario Palacio and his six men would now shift operations to search and retrieval.

“After considering the factors, we have decided to terminate the search and rescue operations, which means we would no longer have a team solely designated to look for them,” Pangilinan said.

She requested nearby PCG stations and their regional district offices in Northeastern Mindanao, Northern Mindanao and Eastern Visayas to issue an alert once they have sightings of persons who fit the descriptions of the seven missing crewmembers.

Pangilinan said the families of the crewmembers have witnessed the efforts of the PCG to locate their relatives in the past 12 days. She said the PCG has explained to them why the search and rescue operations have to be stopped.

The barge was moored in the waters off Agusan del Norte on April 16, when strong winds and waves brought by Bising caused the barge to break away from its anchor.

The vessel, which was loaded with iron ore, drifted until it ran aground on April 20. Its cargo fell into the water.

Pangilinan said an oil spill was averted in the area as the PCG immediately installed booms and siphoned the fuel from the barge.

The Cebu Great Ocean was towed to Cebu, where it is undergoing repair, the PCG said.

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