By Rjay Zuriaga Castor
Four students from West Visayas State University (WVSU) were among the passengers who were rescued from the ship that ran aground on Bantayan Island in Cebu early Monday morning.
The students were identified as Angel Tatel, James Bryan Almonia, Benz Dominique Delariman, and Ma. Kristina Larra Brebaño.
They were aboard MV Filipinas Butuan, a roll-on-roll-off vessel of Cokaliong Shipping Lines, on their way home to Iloilo City after attending an educational forum in Mactan, Cebu.
According to Tatel, they were sleeping when the incident happened and were only informed that they were stranded at around 6 a.m.
“Since 2 a.m., the boat had stopped, and when we woke up, we realized that the boat was no longer moving. By 6 a.m., it was confirmed that we were stranded,” Tatel told Daily Guardian.
She added that rescue boats from the Philippine Coast Guard in Central Visayas (PCG-7) arrived at around 8 a.m.
By 11 a.m., all 250 passengers and the 37 crew members were safely transported from the vessel using three motor bancas and Bantay Dagat service boats.
The passengers are currently taking refuge in Kota Park in Madridejos, Cebu.
Tatel said they would be transferred to Santa Fe Port tomorrow for their return to Iloilo City.
She added that PCG-7 stated that they would be brought back to Iloilo using a coast guard vessel or a new Cokaliong ship if the former could not accommodate all of them.
According to PCG-7, the MV Filipinas Butuan was cruising near the shores of Barangay Kaongkod when it hit a shallow part of the water.
“[The] said vessel was avoiding a fish cage causing it to drift to shallow waters and eventually run aground,” said PCG-7 Commander Agapito Bibat.
The PCG-7 reported that no passengers or crew were injured in the incident.