Death toll from Cebu sea mishap now at 94
MANILA (UPDATED) -– The death toll in the collision between 2GO Travel's M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete in Cebu last August 16 rose to 94 on Thursday morning.
The latest fatalities include two adult females and one boy.
With the recovery of more bodies, the number of missing persons has been lowered to 43, as of 9:47 a.m. today.
Sulpicio ship not in the wrong lane: lawyer
An investigation into the sea collision is ongoing, with both 2GO Travel and Sulpicio Lines - now named Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corporation - blaming each other for the mishap.
Sulpicio Lines lawyer Jaime Vibar earlier said there is no truth to the statement of the captain of the sunken M/V St. Thomas Aquinas that the outbound Sulpicio Express Siete used the inbound lane prior to the collision.
During the hearing conducted by the Special Board of Marine Inquiry (SBMI) last Friday, M/V St. Thomas Aquinas Captain Reynan Bermejo said Sulpicio was using the inbound lane and was running at about 13.2 knots.
This prompted him to steer his ship to the port side (left), he said.
Vibar disputed the captain's claim, saying that it was M/V St. Thomas Aquinas which "overshot" the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS) and crossed the path of the Sulpicio vessel.
"How can 2GO vessel say that Sulpicio vessel was on the inbound lane when the former has not yet entered the inbound lane of TSS. In fact, she overshot or passed the center of the mouth of the inbound lane," Vibar told ABS-CBNnews.com
"Since she passed the center of the TSS, she was rammed by the Sulpicio vessel which was going out of the TSS."
"Kaya nabangga siya dahil bigla siyang kumaliwa instead of going to starboard (right) to follow or enter the inbound lane going to the port of Cebu," he added. -- With report from Dexter Ganibe, dzMM