Archive for the ‘safety at sea’ Category

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=


They Let the Ferries Sail That Night Anyway: The Denouement of the Classic Conflict

January 6, 2009

As I said in my previous article [“Storm Signals Lowered, Coast Guard Suspension of Trips Remain, the Classic Conflict and Ten Thousand Stranded in Bicol, 01/04/09], I would like to see how the classic conflict between ensuring safety at sea and ships wanting to sail in borderline conditions (seas are probably rough because of prevailing weather conditions but storm signals were lowered) will be played out.

At 8:30pm the same night the Coast Guard allowed ships to sail, citing that PAGASA has already lifted the storm signal (though the typhoon is still signal and there is no guarantee that it will not change course; after all, Typhoon Frank changed course during the night and capsized the unwary but negligent MV Princess of the Stars).

Did they just wait for media to finish the early evening news? Or is it the situation that ship captains and owners are at their faces demanding to sail? It could also be the pressure coming from many passengers who are already at the end of their patience. And local governments tiring of caring for the thousands of passengers encamped in their jurisdiction. It could also be all of the above.

Fortunately, no “unfortunate incident” happened. But we cannot be lucky all the time. But taking chances is life’s reality here.

I just wonder why Philippine Navy and Coast Guard vessels are moored in major ports and not near the busy ferry lanes. How can they respond fast if a distress call is issued? So many ferries left Allen (Northern Samar) and the ports of western Leyte and Bohol that night carrying thousands and thousands of passengers. Wouldn’t it be better if they have been escorted?

I just hope that when they let the ferries sail that they were in a better position to help if things did not go right.