By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
The death toll from a fishing vessel that sank off Iloilo’s coast has climbed to seven after the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) recovered two additional bodies yesterday morning.
Based on information released by the PCG station in Negros Occidental, five of the dead crewmen have now been identified as Norberto Parlotzo, Rommel Engle, Victor Calvo, Julit Salvo, and Herminio Ronamo.
The PCG also recovered two additional bodies yesterday morning. They were identified as Frankie Chavez, the captain of the sunken F/V St. Peter the Fisherman II, and Renante Forsuelo.
Two more crewmen remain missing and are believed to be still inside the wreck.
The PCG rescue team that was deployed to the wreck site was encountering difficulties in forwarding information back to land due to poor mobile phone signal.
The PCG, together with the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) of Cadiz City, also posted several videos of the search and retrieval operation on their social media page showing the difficulties in retrieving the missing crewmen.
Visibility in the wreckage is noted to be almost zero and divers have to navigate the “claustrophobic” passageways of the sunken vessel.
The divers also have to deal with the presence of jellyfish as they work their way up and down the wreck site which lies almost 145 feet underwater.
Despite the difficulties encountered by the team, the PCG in Negros Occidental said they are doing everything they can in order to locate and retrieve the remaining bodies and bring them back to their loved ones.
Meanwhile, Captain Ludovico Librilla, Coast Guard District Western Visayas (CGDWV) Deputy commander, said the PCG is set to begin a marine casualty investigation to determine the cause of the sinking.
However, based on accounts coming from the survivors, the vessel was on a fishing venture near the Gigantes, Sicogon and Tanguigui islands when they encountered strong winds and big waves causing their vessel to capsize.
Twenty two crewmen managed to get out in time and were eventually rescued by other fishing boats operating in the area.
Librilla added that they were only informed of the sinking on Friday afternoon./DGB, WDJ