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A triple sea mishap of tragic proportions

By Al S. Mendoza 

THE recent triple tragedy in Guimaras-Iloilo is another grim reminder of how vulnerable we are when we travel by sea.

No less than 30 lives were lost when three motorboats capsized just hours apart in the Iloilo Strait.

Many of the victims came from Buenavista town in Guimaras province on their way to Iloilo City.

A sudden squall overturned the boats, catching all passengers virtually off-guard—some, if not many, of them not wearing life jackets.

A total of nearly 30 casualties were on board the Jenny Vince and Chi Chi boats, including no less than five teachers.

 “Every time I close my eyes, I imagine myself under the boat hearing prayers and shouts for help,” said Rexie Lorilla, a survivor.

Lorilla is a teacher at Lambunao National High School (LNHS) in Iloilo province.

She’s struggling to cope with the death of her fellow teachers: Maria Emilie Legarda, Ivy Grace Labordo, Ma. Zeny Anilao and Lynlyn Janolino.

They were bound for Guimaras to submit requirements in preparation for their comprehensive examinations for their master’s degrees at Guimaras State College.

In his Inquirer report, Nestor P. Burgos Jr. wrote: 

 “While she was struggling to save herself, Lorilla said she heard cries for help and prayers from fellow passengers trapped in the capsized Jenny Vince.

 “After nearly 30 minutes, rescuers arrived and bore a hole on the hull to pull the passengers out.

 “Lorilla had to stay for another 10 minutes sitting on the upturned boat to help other passengers, especially those unconscious who were immediately taken to shore.

 “One of the rescuers threw a lifebuoy to Lorilla before she was pulled toward a rescue boat and taken to a hospital in Iloilo City.

 “Around three hours before the Jenny Vince sank, the motorboats Chi Chi and Keziah had already capsized while sailing to neighboring Jordan town in Guimaras from Iloilo City.

 “Lorilla was among 52 survivors in the triple-motorboat accident.”

Many of the victims did not wear life jackets.  Lorilla was lucky she did.

 “I tied it (life jacket) tightly,” said Lorilla, who said she doesn’t know how to swim. 

But halfway through the sail that would normally last only about 15 minutes, the weather changed.

 “The sky suddenly darkened and I heard a howling sound of the wind,” said Lorilla.  “Our boat tilted to one side and then it capsized.”

With her “second life,” Lorilla, 44, vowed “to change what I still can with my life.”

And then she swore: “I will never ride a boat again.”

Were our Coast Guard officials remiss in their job, especially if we take into account the fact that three motorboats had to capsize virtually in crazy succession?

Why were two more boats allowed to sail after the first one met the accident on the same strait?

Or was the multiple tragedy a freak of nature?

A probe big time is in order.

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