The Bicol regional branch in Legazpi city of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) on Monday said teams had terminated the three-day search and rescue operations for the remaining missing passengers of the MV Lady of Mount Carmel, a roll on-roll-off passenger-cargo vessel that sank early Friday morning at the vicinity of Aguja Point, Burias Island, in Masbate.
OCD regional director Bernardo Rafael Alejandro said they had officially ended the operations on the recommendation of the commanders of the Philippine Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force Tactical Operation Group V (TOG-5) composite group that carried out the operations.
“The SAR mission has been terminated on the ground that it had been carried out extensively for the past four days, surpassing the normal 48-hour SAR for missing victims,” Alejandro said.
Alejandro said that as SAR operations ended, the search teams decided to shift their operations to search and retrieval wherein local land, sea and air assets have been alerted at the community level to monitor if there are floating bodies or debris that have been sighted in the shorelines of coastal villages of Aroroy town.
When asked if there is any time frame for the search and retrieval operation Bicol PCG commander Commodore Aaron Reconquista, said that as a normal practice, it will be an indefinite operation as it all will depend on how the missing bodies, debris and pollutants will show up.
At the assessment conference Monday morning, Alejandro said at least five air assets (two islander planes and three helicopters) from TOG 5, Navy and PCG; four sea vessels from the Navy and PCG, and two motor bancas from local Bantay Dagat and BFAR were used during the three-day operations.
The search teams have covered some 400 square kilometers of sea area in searching for the missing bodies while the air assets (planes and helicopters) also consumed 15 hours of flying time in the search.
Reconquista said the MV Lady of Mount Carmel was carrying a total of 70 passengers, 57 of whom were in the manifest while 13 were not listed.
Two elderly women died and seven passengers remain missing when the 94-ton Ro-Ro vessel sank on Friday morning off the waters of Aguja point, some 11 nautical miles from the port of gold-rich Aroroy town. (From report of the PNA)
Read previous post about the Roro sinking here :Forty Passengers Rescued, 2 Die off Masbate RORO Sea Mishap