By Tara Yap
Iloilo City—At least 11 people have been confirmed dead while several are still missing after three passenger boats capsized Saturday along the Iloilo Strait, the body of water separating this city from the island province of Guimaras.
Donna Magno, chief of the Iloilo City Risk Reduction and Management Office and official incident spokesperson, said this is the number of casualties of 7 p.m. of August 3.and based on the data provided by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
“Search and retrieval operations are still ongoing,” Magno told Manila Bulletin.
The first incident, which killed an initial 10 people, occurred around noontime when passenger boats Chi-Chi and Keziah 2 were on its way to Jordan Wharf in Jordan town, Guimaras from Parola Wharf in this city. The two boats encountered what locals call pugada (squall), which is characterized by sudden strong wind and rain. The two boats had 41 survivors from the 51 passengers and crew.
The second incident occurred 3:30 p.m. after passenger boat Jenny Vince was allowed by the PCG to travel despite the incident that occurred more than two hours earlier. As of this writing, Magno said that only one body has been retrieved and 26 have been rescued from Jenny Vince. The boat had 34 passengers and four crew members.
After the sinking of the third passenger boat, both Mayors Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City and Eugene Reyes of Buenavista town, Guimaras gave the order for total suspension of sea trips along the strait.
Teresita Siason, chief of the Guimaras Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Office, added that they are still consolidating data as passengers rescued were taken to various hospitals both in Iloilo City and Guimaras.
Meanwhile, thousands of passengers in both Iloilo City and Guimaras are stranded. Both local governments and private groups are helping provide food for the stranded passengers.