Death toll hits 42 from Masbate sea tragedy; board to conduct probe
By Mar Arguelles
Legazpi City (6 November) -- The death toll from the sea tragedy of MV Don Dexter that capsized on Tuesday off the waters of Dimasalang town in Masbate rose to 42, with 98 people rescued while 9 are still missing as of the latest count, the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol said yesterday.
OCD report said two more bodies were fished out on Wednesday bringing the current casualty count to 42. The bodies recovered were brought to Dimasalang town plaza for identification of the relatives, while the survivors were rushed to the St. Joseph Medical Hospital in Dimasalang town for medical treatment, majority of the survivors were already sent home after they were treated with minor injuries.
Following the sea tragedy that struck MV Don Dexter, the Board of Marine Inquiry (BMI) said on Wednesday that they will conduct a full blown investigation on the mishap that claimed the lives of 42 people.
The BMI would look into possible violation of sea safety and worthiness by the operator of the sea vessel, for instance the reported overloading, absence of lifejackets and the non-securing of clearance to navigate from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Raffy Alejandro, OCD regional director said the BMI would investigate why 149 passengers were recovered as against the 119 names of passengers listed in the manifest. Records from authorities indicate that the vessel is only allowed to carry a maximum 100 passengers as authorized by the Passenger Ship Safety Certificate.
Authorities will also check the registration records and ownership of the sea vessel as it appears that the vessel has two alleged owners: one Amiel Tamayo and a certain Edward Yap both from Dimasalang, Masbate.
However, records from the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) Bicol indicated that indeed, the MV Don Dexter, a motorized wooden hull, passenger boat is owned by Tamayo.
The MV Don Dexter, mastered by boat Captain Dante Bombales sailed the Dimasalang port at about 2:00PM Tuesday bound for Bulan, Sorsogon, carrying 149 passengers from said town.
Bombales in his ship declaration of protest said they were cruising the waters off Magcaragit, Dimasalang on a very calm sea and sunny afternoon when upon reaching the seawaters of the Island of Magcaragit freak big waves spawned by a tornado hit the right side of the sea vessel causing panic to the passengers.
He said, despite their efforts to calm them, the passengers transferred to the left side of the boat causing the vessel to lift on this side and eventually overturned, trapping the passengers inside.
Records reveal that the boat was insured with the Philippine Insurance Corp. in the amount of Ph. 21.2 million covering the insurance benefits of 100 paying passengers and six crews in case of accident death and dismemberment. (PIA) [top]