Archive for the ‘ferry sinking’ Category

Migration tragedy: 21 dead and hundreds missing as boat sinks in Mediterranean sea

April 1, 2009

In the cold waters off Libya, a frail fishing boat carrying about 250 aspiring migrants to Europe sank during stormy weather on Friday, March 27, 2009. At least 20 illegal aliens drowned and more than 200 hundred were reported missing. Mostly from Africa and Middle East, the victims were part of an undetermined number of illegal travelers who perish each year in their bid for a better life.

“Thousands of African, Asian and Middle Eastern migrants fleeing wars and poverty use Libya and other North African countries as a launching pads for the dangerous journey across the Mediterranean to southern Europe — often in rickety, overloaded boats. Another flimsy vessel with about 350 migrants was rescued about a day later in the same area where the fishing boat capsized.” AP (03/31/09, Fergany, AM; Santana, R)

Although 350 migrants in a second boat with no casualties were rescued and brought back to Tripoli, Jean-Philippe Chauzy of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in Geneva, Switzerland said this sea mishap could be the biggest in terms of the number of dead and missing of a sea vessel leaving North Africa to Europe.

The cause of the sinking has not been known, but a Libyan police officer said the boat was overloaded, and bad weather could be a contributory factor. Some survivors however spoke of a hole that caused the boat to capsize.

The death of the migrants brings to light the growing problem of illegal immigration. In spite of efforts to curb unlawful movement of people in Europe, nationals from impoverished countries worldwide risk their lives in search for better economic opportunities.

Even those who travel with valid papers also face hardships and alienation in their search for jobs. A recent case is the humiliation and abuse by Chip Tsao, an arrogant HK journalist who disparagingly insulted overseas Filipinos whose country he referred to as “a nation of servants.” (Photo Credit: Holvic) =0=

RELATED BLOG: “New Immigration Laws Worry Illegal Aliens In Europe ” Posted by mesiamd at 6/22/2008

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With 17, 000 islands, Indonesia shares maritime woes with the Philippines

January 13, 2009

The stormy weather sucked in the Indonesian ferry Tertai Prima and disappeared in the sea on Sunday, January 11, 2009. Two days after the 700-ton (635-metric ton) inter-island vessel which plied the route in a country with 17,000 islands sank, an undetermined number travelers, part of at least 250 passengers and 17 crew onboard, had been missing and accounted for.

“The Teratai Prima, which radioed that it was in trouble just before dawn Sunday, capsized about 30 miles (50 kilometers) off the coast of western Sulawesi. It was headed for Samarinda on the Indonesian side of Borneo.”—AP (01/12/09, Ahmad, Y)

There are reports many are still alive waiting for a rescue. Horrid tales of those who survived spoke of children and elderly drowning in the fierce waters brought by cyclone Charlotte. Thirty four (34) were so far rescued and 40 escaped. Of the dead, the Indonesian government promised $2,400 each, a measly sum for each life lost that could have been more valuable and productive. In December 2006, similar sinking occurred in Java-Borneo area killing nearly 2/3 of the 600 passengers.
This story is shared in more grim terms by us Filipinos who live with 7,000 islands.

It brings recall of the woeful maritime tragedies that occur in our waters with frequency and lethality greater than in Indonesia. Most of these sea accidents in both countries are blamed on inclement weather, poor supervision and negligence of maritime and government officials, overloading, equipment failure, human error among others. We call on our respective government authorities to do something more than the status quo to prevent the next boat sinking waiting at the bend. We could just look back at some of our blogs below that stress this point. (Credits: Mauritius100’s; Lorca56)

RELATED BLOGS: “23 drown in another ferry boat mishap” Posted by mesiamd at 12/15/2008; “May barko na naman na lumubog!” Posted by mesiamd at 11/26/2008; “RP’s maritime disaster Ferry boat sinks in Masbate killing 40″ Posted by mesiamd at 11/04/2008; “Princess of the stars: a harvest of blame and shame” Posted by mesiamd at 11/08/2008; “A Sorry Maritime Safety Record Indeed In The Philippines” Posted by myty555 at 11/09/2008 =0=

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Two Boat Sinkings, A New Year Ferry Suspension in Bicol, Wave Height and Gale

January 3, 2009


For thousands of Bicol ferry passengers the forlorn walls of the ferry terminals in Tabaco (Albay), Pilar and Matnog (both in Sorsogon) was their New Year’s eve sight. This came about because government authorities, on the advice of the weather bureau, suspended small crafts from sailing citing forecasts of waves of up to four meters high.

This suspension is probably a reaction to the recent sinking of the motor boat MB Mae Jan which plies the Calayan island to Aparri, Cagayan route in which about half of its 100 passengers died. It was said that the weather was fine when the boat left Calayan but it turned bad before the boat reached its destination. The incident highlighted the disregard of PAGASA (the Philippines weather forecasting bureau) advisories which warned of big waves for that day.

Maybe the suspension is only correct. Forecast of wave heights should be the governing factor in ferry trip suspensions rather than wind speeds which is the basis for typhoon forecasts. It is waves that primarily swamp and capsize ships and not the winds per se. People should probably start to understand now that ships can meet sinking incidents even without a typhoon warning (and I am glad PAGASA now uses the term ‘gale’ to describe stormy sea conditions). I hope that government will stress more the importance of heeding wave height forecasts and educate people accordingly.

Sometimes I wonder if we need MB Mae Jan incidents for us to learn these things. But with the new system I hope the lives lost in that incident and in the MB Don Dexter Cathlyn sinking off Dimasalang, Masbate which killed about 40 people would not have been in vain.

This day, this change had a new twist. Ferry trips in Bicol were again suspended but this time the reason for the suspension is the refusal of the ship captains to venture out to sea combined with the barring of sea travel by the the Coast Guard. I hope this development augurs a new era of more pro-active observance of sea safety. I think we have needlessly lost enough lives in sea tragedies over the years because of the bahala na (leaving things to providence) attitude.

However, I hope this will not augur a new era of over-cautious sailing when ships are grounded when a storm is still far away and it so happened only that there is already a typhoon warning. Economic oppurtunies are lost this way. There is no need to automatically suspend ships when it is still shining and wave forecast is still moderate.

For prudence, maybe a finer distinction between small ships is needed. Old sea travellers know that outriggers and motor boats which are wooden are more vulnerable than steel ferries and there are bigger ferries that can handle waves better. The should not all be lumped under the category of ‘small sea craft’.

More passengers will be stranded in the future, for sure. But maybe it will also teach them how to read weather forecasts especially those that are available on the Net which is numerous enough and is up-to-date.

[photo credit: freewebs]