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Cebu-bound vessel stalled off Leyte; all passengers rescued

First Posted 11:09:00 01/03/2008

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An inter-island passenger vessel stalled off Leyte province after it encountered an engine problem one hour after it left Ormoc City port yesterday.

The MV Heaven Star of the Roble Shipping Lines left Ormoc City about 11 a.m. yesterday and was scheduled to arrive in Cebu City port at 3 p.m. the same day, said Ramil Dizon, a disc jockey of Cebu City-based Smash FM.

Dizon, his parents and sister were among the passengers of the stalled vessel.

Dizon, through a text message sent to station dyLA, said the vessel stopped off Isabel town in Leyte at noon.

He said the crew told them that the vessel suffered a mechanical problem after seawater got into its bunker fuel.

The vessel was full of passengers, Dizon said, many of them were bound for Cebu to report for work after the long holidays.

Dizon said some passengers became angry as many of them had not eaten lunch yet.

Joy Roble, vice president for operations of Roble Shipping, said the vessel had about 930 passengers and 80 crewmembers headed by Capt. Rodolfo Saavedra.

Roble said the firm had yet to verify the crew's announcement to passengers that the bunker fuel got contaminated with seawater.

He said that a sister vessel, MV Wonderful Start left Cebu City port about 4:30 p.m. to provide assistance to MV Heaven Star.

The rescuing vessel brought some food and water to the passengers and crew of the stalled vessel, Roble said.

He added that MV Wonderful Start would escort the stalled vessel if technicians could make the Heaven Star's engine work again. However, the passengers would be transferred to MV Wonderful Start if the stalled vessel's engine would not start, Roble said. /correspondent Jhnunnex Napallacan

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