By Raymund Antonio
A vessel carrying 251 passengers on Thursday sank off between Dinahican, Quezon and Polillo Island, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
The PCG main headquarters in Manila received a report at 11 a.m. from Coast Guard Station Northern Quezon that the ship, identified as Mercraft 3, went down in the vicinity.
Capt. Armand Balilo, spokesman of the PCG, said Mercraft 3 departed from Ungos Port in Real, Quezon and was en route to Polillo Island when the maritime incident occurred.
“As per initial information received, said sea craft has a maximum capacity of 286 passengers and 251 were reportedly on board,” said Balilo
Search and rescue (SAR) operations are still ongoing for the passengers and crew of Mercraft 3. The cause of the sinking remains unclear.
The Coast Guard has dispatched rescue teams from Southern Luzon to Real, Quezon.
At the same time, the maritime agency also coordinated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Southern Luzon Command in Lucena, Quezon for the deployment of its air and maritime assets for the SAR mission.
Balilo also said PCG’s multi-role response vessels were about to depart from Manila to participate in the search and rescue operations.