January 20, 2018, 7:03 pm
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Coast Guard rescues crewmen of cargo vessel

NINE crew members of a distressed Taiwanese-flagged cargo vessel were rescued by Philippine Coast Guard personnel off Laoang town in Northern Samar on Monday afternoon at the height of tropical storm “Agaton.”

The PCG said the rescued crewmen were six Chinese, two Hong Kong residents, and a Taiwanese. The ship’s captain, Lai Yi Kui, was among those rescued.

Agaton left the country yesterday but many parts of the country will continue to experience cloudy and rainy weather until Friday.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said two persons in Cebu were reported to have died from Agaton but the information remains subject to verification.

The cargo vessel, MV Jin Ming No. 16 Hao, was found at around 5:30 p.m. Monday, about 5.8 nautical miles northeast of Marubay island in Laoang town during the onslaught of Agaton, the first weather disturbance to hit the country this year.

“The cargo vessel’s two compressors were taking in water which caused its engine to stop,” the PCG said, adding the 68-meter vessel was already drifting towards Marubay island.

It said one of the crew members signaled that their ship was in distress and requested for evacuation.

“Unfortunately, no lifeboat was available and the crew requested for immediate evacuation. The crew intended to abandon the ship as soon as the situation becomes unfavorable to them,” the PCG said.

The ship, which has about 1,400 liters of bunker oil, was on the way to Chile, carrying liquor. 

The PCG said its Marine Environment Protection Unit “has put up segments of oil spill booms around the half-submerged vessel that is presently listing to starboard, to prevent the possible spread of oil.”

PCG personnel are now in Laoang town to get the sworn statement of the vessel’s crew members “in order to determine the cause of the incident.”

Weather forecaster Ariel Rojas said Agaton, which intensified from a tropical depression to a storm yesterday morning, left the Philippine area of responsibility at around 1 p.m. and headed for Vietnam.

He said the storm or even its trough or extension of clouds would no longer affect any part of the country beginning today but cloudy skies with light to moderate rains will remain in parts of the Bicol region and Quezon and Northern Samar provinces until tomorrow because of the tail-end of a cold front, which is the merging of cool and warm winds. – With Angela Lopez de Leon
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