Aquino Threatens To Suspend Company Whose Ship Sank In Typhoon
Oct. 27, 1988
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ President Corazon Aquino today threatened to shut down the company whose passenger ship sailed into Typhoon Ruby and sank with hundreds of people aboard.
Authorities ordered the owners to explain why they should not lose their license for letting the vessel sail into a storm whose winds reached 140 mph.
The latest casualty figures indicate just 197 people survived the sinking Monday of the 2,855-ton Dona Marilyn in heavy seas about 300 miles southeast of Manila.
The coast guard said an undetermined number of others reached a small island more than 100 miles west of where the ship sank. At least 33 bodies have been recovered, officials said.
Some survivors remain in shock and were refusing to be flown from the islands where they washed ashore, coast guard officials said today.
The ship's manifest showed 431 passengers and a crew of 60. But coast guard officials said the headcount at sailing time was 379 passengers.
Today, Mrs. Aquino told reporters she had ordered the Department of Transportation to investigate Sulpicio Lines, which owned the Dona Marilyn and another passenger ship that sank 10 months ago with more than 3,000 casualties.
The Dona Paz, Dona Marilyn's sister ship, collided with an oil tanker last December off Mindoro Island. Only 28 people survived.
''If it is necessary to suspend operations of Sulpicio Lines, then I would do so,'' Mrs. Aquino said. On Wednesday, she said investigators should determine why the Dona Marilyn sailed despite the typhoon's approach.
Philip Tuazon, administrator of the government's Maritime Industry Authority, said his organization had ordered Sulpicio ''to explain why we should not suspend them.''
Sulpicio President Carlos Go said he could not explain why the vessel sailed from Manila on schedule Sunday morning for Tacloban, 350 miles southeast, although the storm was approaching the eastern Philippines.
Go said he would have to speak first with surviving crew but added: ''During Sunday, when they left Manila, the weather was clear.''
In Tacloban, Sulpicio station manager Bernardo Cabigon said the Dona Marilyn's skipper was not among the confirmed survivors but that the chief mate and two other officers were reported safe on Almagro Island.
Capt. Daniel Delgado, Philippine coast guard chief of staff, said the vessel was allowed to sail because no typhoon warning had been issued for the Manila area at the time.
But Nanette Lumarda, chief of the government weather service's tropical cyclones secton, said Ruby developed into a tropical storm as early as 8 p.m. Friday about 645 miles east of Mindanao Island.
At 11 a.m. Sunday, one hour after the Dona Marilyn sailed, the weather service issued a bulletin warning that Ruby had grown into a typhoon and was moving west-northwest toward the Visayas Islands, she said.
She added that on Sunday afternoon, about 24 hours before the Dona Marilyn sank, the weather service issued an international shipping advisory warning of ''rough to very high seas'' along the route of the stricken vessel. She said warnings were updated every six hours.
Vicente Gambito, a Sulpicio vice president, said the company received a message early Monday from the Dona Marilyn that it was buffeted by giant waves south of Masbate island.
Gambito said the company ordered the captain to change course for the west, using Masbate as a shield against the storm. Five hours later, the captain radioed the ship was taking in water and the condition was ''critical,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Go said 139 survivors were aboard another company ship, the Princess, and expected in Tacloban later today. He said the others were still on Maripipi, Almagro and other small islands near where the vessel sank.
Lt. Edmund Luscre, coast guard operations chief in Iloilo, said an undetermined number of survivors reached Sicogon, a tiny resort island off the coast of Panay. Sicogon is about 100 miles west of where the ship sank.