Wicked Weather In The Philippines: A Ship Capsizes, Hundreds Die


When the rainy season came, we felt a sense of foreboding. The intense heat of summer had given way to heavy rains which slowly brewed into a storm. Typhoon Frank battered the emerald islands, pushing Filipinos into new heights of peril and death.

According to Associated Press (06/22/08, Alexander,P,) more than 700 people are missing when a ship capsized in central Philippines. A hundred plus more died in various parts of the country during the typhoon. Like a recurrent déjà vu, the storm’s aftermath left a footprint of damage and misery that could only make us cry.

Presumed safe to ride the waves, the lissome passenger ship called “Princess of Stars” went aground in bad weather. Part of the Sulpicio Lines fleet, the ill-fated ferry had more than 700 passengers and crew members unaccounted for or presumed dead after the ship’s engine failed at the height of the storm. Such deaths during a typhoon are flat reminders of how fickle the earth’s climate could be.

Before accounting for the millions lost, we think if human error or negligence plays a role in the ship’s sinking. With travel safety and weather advisories sometimes ignored by transport operators, we’ll soon learn more about the tragedy at a time when it’s too late to make any difference for those who perished. We can only guess how risky it would be to ride a boat together with incompetence and bad weather.

Only 10 are known to have survived as of this writing. Those who know someone in the ill-fated ferry are visibly distraught and madly resentful. They grieve over their loss—loved ones who won’t probably go home to tell their ordeal at sea. The people vainly seek for answers, waiting for help, hope, and consolation from the authorities.

But in spite of the emotional woes and material losses that the victims bear, Typhoon Frank’s riveting pictures by Reuters and Associated Press show the people’s resilience, their way of coping when a disaster strikes.

A slow but heavy bulldozer served like a bus which carried distressed villagers to safety. The poor folks braved the rising flood, bringing along any possession they could save from damage homes. After the water subsided, families gathered what was left of their possessions. Innocent children waded in murky cesspools that formed, unmindful of the grime, germs, and floating debris which inundated their neighborhoods.

It’s unclear how far we can prepare for the next wicked weather. But we need to ready. As disasters do not discriminate between the rich and poor, for the most part, it is often the poor who suffers most. We still have a long way to go in making disaster-preparedness part of our lives. We have yet to learn from the 4,000 plus deaths in our worst ship disaster in history, the sinking of Dona Paz in 1987.=0=

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