By Hader Glang
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines
A combination of overloading and human error are reported to have been behind a passenger ferry disaster in the Philippines in which 59 people died.
Survivors have complained that they were not given life vests and said that the vessel capsized as it left Ormoc port for Pilar town in Cebu’s Camotes Islands at 12:20 p.m. (0520GMT) on Thursday after the captain made a sharp turn on the choppy waters.
In a report Saturday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer cited statements from Baltazar Tribulano, head of the country's disaster management office, as saying that the M/B Kim Nirvana-B was overloaded.
"There was overloading of both passengers and cargo,” he said, adding that the vessel had veered sharply to the right after encountering strong waves soon after leaving port.
The boat has been reported to have been carrying 300 sacks of cement, 50 sacks of rice, bags of fertilizers and nipa shingles (palm leaves often used in roofing).
Based on survivor accounts, Tribunalo said at least four unlisted passengers had also boarded the boat - which the Coast Guard has said could accommodate 178 people - shortly before it left Ormoc.
The Phil Star has reported that the boat's manifest showed only 173 passengers and crew.
In an interview on radio dzMM, Capt. Pedro Tinampay, commander of the Eastern Visayas District, said a total of 59 bodies have been recovered as of 7 a.m. Saturday.
Authorities have said 141 people had been rescued, bringing the number on board the boat to 200.
The boat's captain, owner and crew have been detained.
They are reported to be facing criminal charges.