MANILA (Mabuhay) –The Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) on Thursday said it found no sign of overloading of the ill-fated MB Kim Nirvana-B, which sank off Ormoc last week and left 62 people dead.
MARINA Administrator Maximo Mejia told lawmakers at the House transportation committee’s hearing on the incident that based on their calculations, the motorized boat was not overloaded. This was even if the boat exceeded its approved capacity of 178 passengers by allowing 209 people on board. Sacks of rice, cement and fertilizer were also loaded onto the 33-ton vessel.
“There’s no overloading in terms of weight, but there’s overcrowding. We clarify that the accident was not caused by the excess number of passengers but the negligent operations of the captain,” Mejia said.
He explained that in theory, MB Kim Nirvana’s carrying capacity was up to 100 tons. The vessel’s actual load, he said, was less than 50 even if there were excess number of passengers and cargo on board.
“If we’re going to go by the weight of passengers and cargo, the vessel wasn’t overloaded,” Mejia said.
An Agence France Presse report quoted city councilor Godiardo Ebcas as saying that survivors reported seeing up to 150 sacks of cement in the ship’s cargo area before it capsized off the central port of Ormoc on July 2.
The Philippine Coast Guard, however, earlier said it did not find MB Kim Nirvana overloaded because the mark on the hull indicating overloading was not reached even if the vessel contained an excess number of passengers and cargo.
PCG spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said last week they are not discounting at this time the possibility an error by the crew could have caused the MB Kim Nirvana-B to capsize.
Coast Guard Admiral Rodolfo Isorena said at the hearing that the 209 passengers on board the boat were composed of 190 passengers and 19 crew members, including the vessel’s owners.
“We are now looking at the lapses of personnel who conducted the inspection,” he said. (MNS)