Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Mass burial set for unidentified ship collision victims

A mass burial has been set for 47 unidentified bodies recovered after the collision last month of a passenger ferry and a cargo vessel here.

Neil Sanchez, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) officer, said they have decided to bury the remaining bodies due to health concerns.

The mass burial is set for Sept. 25 at the public cemetery in Barangay Carreta and 2Go Group, Inc., owner and operator of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, will shoulder the burial expenses.

“We really have to go through with the burial because of health concerns. The advanced state of decomposition of some of the bodies have made embalming impossible,” Mr. Sanchez told reporters.

The unidentified bodies have been assigned case numbers pending the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) test results.

This would facilitate the release of the bodies to the relatives after the results are released, Mr. Sanchez said.

The 47 unidentified victims were among the 116 fatalities in the sinking of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas last Aug. 16.

The passenger vessel, which carried 870 people, sank shortly after colliding with cargo vessel M/V Sulpicio Express Siete in a narrow channel off Talisay, Cebu.

The ferry came from Nasipit in Agusan del Sur on a day-long journey.

A Special Board of Marine Inquiry was opened on Aug. 23 in Cebu City, led by Commodore Gilbert Rueras of the Philippine Coast Guard.

As of Sept. 17, the total number of fatalities from the collision was at 116, with 21 people still missing.

Of the bodies recovered, 69 have been identified while 47 remained unidentified. A total of 733 survived the accident.

Mr. Sanchez said the families still have the option to bury their loved ones in Cebu or have them cremated after the DNA test results are released.

“For as long as families are legitimate claimants, they can claim the bodies even after the burial,” he added.

Accidents at sea are common in the Philippines because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

In 1987, the ferry M/V Doña Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

In 2008, the ferry M/V Princess of the Stars capsized during a typhoon in the central Philippines, killing nearly 800 people.

Tuesday 17 September 2013



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