Another deadly maritime tragedy hit the Philippines as Super Ferry 9 sank off the coast of Zamboanga peninsula yesterday. Reports said the ferry issued a distress call around 3:30 am when it began tilting on one side for still undisclosed reasons. At least nine fatalities have been confirmed while dozens more remain missing. A total of 931 people are reported to have been rescued out of the total 964 passengers and crew in the ferry's manifest.
The tragedy happened in the midst of tropical storm Dujuan although according to Zamboanga coast guard chief Commodore Rudy Isorena, the weather in the area had not been too bad. According to reports, the ferry shifted suddenly which caused some passengers to panic and jump into the water. Other passengers managed to get into life boats.
Maritime disasters are common in the country at the height of typhoon season.
According to this report, "aside from bad weather, poor maintenance, overcrowding of vessels and lax enforcement of regulations have also contributed to disasters." Furthermore, it said, "the coastguard report said the Superferry 9, a steel-hulled vessel made in Japan in 1986, had a legal capacity of 1,120 passengers and crew."
The Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC) has already issued a show cause order against the ship's captain, Capt. Joel Yap to explain the circumstances behind the sinking of the said ship.
Whatever the cause of the tragedy had been, I wish more of the missing people will be found and rescued the soonest time possible and that the death toll wouldn't rise some more. And if ever negligence on the part of the ferry's management is found to be the culprit, I hope justice will then be served.