Coast Guard probes Quezon vessel fire

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has been tasked “to get to the bottom” of a fire that struck a passenger vessel in the waters off Real in Quezon province on Monday, resulting in the death of seven passengers and injury to 24 others.

“This is a very unfortunate incident. May instruction na po si Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade that we get to the bottom of it para hindi na maulit yung mga ganitong incident,” PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said in a radio interview when asked for updates on the mishap.

He said the captain of the MV Mercraft 2 has been placed under the custody of authorities.

Balilo said PCG records showed that another Mercraft vessel had previously figured in a sea mishap that left three passengers dead.

He said the owner of the vessel had contacted and extended help to the families of the fatalities and the other victims.

The mother of the captain of the vessel was among the fatalities while his father was among the survivors, Balilo confirmed.

The Mercraft 2 was approaching the Port of Real from Polillo Islands when it caught fire. The blaze, which reportedly started in the engine room at around 5 a.m., was declared under control before 10 a.m.

Malacañang expressed its condolences to the families of the fatalities and offered prayers for the speedy recovery of those injured.

Acting presidential spokesman Martin Andanar said all passengers and crewmembers have been accounted for.

“The investigation is underway to give us a clearer picture of what happened,” he said.

In another development, the PCG rescued a Filipina who went scuba diving in Tubbataha Reef in Palawan.

The diver reportedly lost consciousness when her  breathing device failed to produce compressed air, which caused her to panic at around 18 meters underwater. – Ed Amoroso, Helen Flores


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