Coast Guard: Four dead as vessel sinks off Quezon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 21) — Four people are dead after a motorized vessel carrying more than 200 people sank off the coast of Quezon province, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Thursday.

PCG Spokesperson Armand Balilo said MV Mercraft 3 was carrying 251 passengers when it sank in waters between Dinahican, Quezon province and Polillo Island.

Balilo said as of 6 p.m., 240 people have been rescued, while seven are still unaccounted for.

MV Mercraft 3 was on its way to Polillo Island some 35 km away from Ungos Port in Real, Quezon. It has a maximum capacity of 286 passengers.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Brgy. Dinahican Kagawad Janette Balili said 218 survivors were brought to Brgy. Dinahican in Infanta, Quezon.

Balili added there are 18 more survivors in Real and another four in Brgy. Pandan, Real, Quezon.

"We have accommodated 218 survivors... Meron pa rin po maam na nasa Real, Quezon. Pagkaalam namin ay confirmed 18 po ang nadala dun... Meron ring apat po sa Pandan, Quezon," she said.

[Translation: We have accommodated 218 survivors... There are still some in Real, Quezon. From what we know, 18 people were brought there... There are also four people in Pandan, Quezon]

The Coast Guard has coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) for possible deployment of Airforce and Navy vessels. Vessels in the area were also notified to help in the rescue.

The list of survivors include:

  • Flodexto Acuesta
  • Wolvet Aguila
  • Sharon Antonio
  • Mark Joseph Antonio
  • Luzviminda Atendido
  • Rexel Atentar
  • Aldren Atienza
  • Sharmaine Ayala
  • Sharina Ayala
  • Marshal Azorez
  • Lanie Rose Azul
  • Mark Leonard Azul
  • Michael Baleno
  • Maricel Calleja
  • Ella May Cedeno
  • Tyshia Diasanta
  • Ralph Ronie Durante
  • Renato Ebaneya
  • Premo Golbin
  • Patrick Mark Imperial
  • Johniel Junterial
  • Robert Luz
  • Rezyl Luz
  • Ariane Luz
  • Mitchel Marasigan
  • Lordue Boy Marasigan
  • Ejary Mejia
  • Donnel Jade Mendiola
  • Aldrian Nanale
  • Michael Pasoot
  • Jhon Marlon Ramos
  • Renalyn Rongalerios
  • Rolan Rutaquio
  • Roed Sopion
  • Beverly Soltura
  • Rohen Sura

Speaking to CNN Philippines, one survivor, Judith Sierno, recounted what happened to the vessel. She claimed some passengers suspected the ship was overloaded.

"Sabi po ng asawa ko una overload daw. Tapos biglang may tubig na po sa harapan ng barko, pinasok na po ng tubig tapos unti unti na pong lumulubog," she said.

[Translation: My husband said at first it was overloaded. Then water started entering the ship and it started sinking slowly.]

This is contrary to information from the Coast Guard, which says the ship carried 251 people-- less than its 286 capacity.

The incident comes as Mindanao and the Visayas brace for tropical storm 'Vinta,' which was last spotted 260 km from Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur. Quezon province is not within the tropical storm's path.

The Coast Guard has yet to issue an official cause for the incident, but Balilo said weather could be a factor.

READ: ‘Vinta’ now a Severe Tropical Storm, to make landfall over Surigao del Sur