Aboitiz: SuperFerry 9 passengers to get assistance

Posted at 09/06/2009 8:27 PM | Updated as of 09/06/2009 8:29 PM

MANILA - The Aboitiz Transport System (ATS) Corporation on Sunday said passengers of SuperFerry 9, which sank off the western coast of Zamboanga Peninsula, will get assistance from the company, the Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) reported.

In a text message to ABS-CBN News, MARINA administrator Ma. Elena Bautista said that Aboitiz has protection and indemnity (P&I) cover.

MARINA said that under Aboitiz's P&I cover, relatives of deceased passengers will receive P200,000, while survivors will receive P50,000 each.

The agency also said the company assured them that they will comply with MARINA rules.

A press statement from ATS, meanwhile, said assistance for passengers and crew are on standby.

"All rescued passengers and crew will be brought to Zamboanga port. Assistance such as medical, hotel accommodation and transport needs are on standby for the passengers and crew," the statement, signed by ATS Vice President for Safety and Security Jess Supan, said.

All injured passengers will be brought to the hospital immediately. Counseling will also be available for passengers who will need them," the statement said.

Meanwhile, another ATS ship, the SuperFerry 1, has been diverted to Zamboanga to fetch passengers of SuperFerry 9 who would like to continue on their journey to Iloilo and Manila, said ATS in the statement.

"SuperFerry1 has been rerouted to pass by Zamboanga for passengers who would like to depart immediately for Manila and Iloilo. It is estimated to arrive in Zamboanga tonight. SuperFerry has also made arrangements for passengers who would prefer to fly to Manila," the statement said.

Relatives of the passengers may also get assistance from centers that have been set up in by the company Manila, Iloilo and Zamboanga.

Fuel inside ship safe

ATS also said that fuel onboard the ship will stay inside the ship's tanks.

"SuperFerry has consulted oil experts from Shell Phils. who assured them that the fuel oil onboard, which is of the heavy type of fuel, will most probably stay inside the fuel tanks of SuperFerry9," the statement said.

"There is approximately 220 tons of this fuel onboard and in the unlikely event that this fuel should leak, SuperFerry has already hired Harbour Star to bring their oil booms and be prepared with chemical oil dispersants. The tug of Harbour star has already been dispatched. Philippine Coast Guard has also mobilized their buoy tender from Palawan with another oil boom and oil dispersants," it added.

Aboitiz said it has also hired a plane from Cebu to assist in air search and rescue operations.

The Philippine Air Force has sent 2 choppers and one OV-10, while the Philippine Army has deployed a helicopter. The US Air Force Assistance Group, based in Zamboanga, has also deployed helicopters to join the search, Aboitiz said.

Show-cause order

Meanwhile, transportation and communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza and Undersecretary for Maritime Transport Thompson Lantion has ordered MARINA to issue to Aboitiz a show-cause order on Tuesday, conduct audit inspection of all passenger vessels of Superferry and for the coastguard to continue search and rescue operations.

According to Coast Guard commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, initial reports said the generator set of the vessel switched on and off before it listed.

Meanwhile, other ATS vessels are still operating. With a report from Cecille Lardizabal, ABS-CBN News