An inaccurate manifest is making it difficult for authorities to conduct search, rescue, and retrieval operations on MV Lady Mary Joy 3, which caught fire late Wednesday evening, a local official said Friday.
"'Yan 'yung magiging challenges natin, isa sa mga challenges ng search and rescue or retrieval po sa insidente na to kasi 'yung manifest po kasi hindi nasusunod," Mayor Arsina Kahing-Nanoh of Hadji Muhtamad, Basilan told Unang Balita.
(That is one of the challenges in the search and rescue or retrieval operations in this incident, because the manifest was not accurate.)
"'Yung manifest po na record ng Coast Guard is nasa 205 lang po. 'Yung na-rescue na po is nasa 195, iba 'yung mga namatay, so hindi po talaga nagma-match po," she added.
(The manifest obtained by the Coast Guard indicated that there were only 205 passengers. The number of rescued people was 195, excluding the number of fatalities, so it does not match.)
For Kahing-Nanoh, someone should be held liable for the fatal fire.
As of Thursday evening, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said the number of fatalities due to the incident has increased to 29.
A total of 230 survivors were reported in the incident, including the crew aboard the vessel, it added.
Out of the 29 remains, 11 have been identified while 18 are set to undergo DNA testing, PCG Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao commander Commodore Rejard Marfe said.
At least seven people are still missing as of Friday morning, he added.
Asked if the fire started from an aircondition unit, Kahing-Nanoh said there is no definite confirmation yet but some survivors already gave their accounts regarding the incident.
The PCG earlier said the fire allegedly started at the accommodation area on the second deck of the vessel.
MV Lady Mary Joy 3 was en route to Jolo, Sulu from Zamboanga City on March 29 when it caught fire at around 10:40 p.m. The blaze was declared fire out at 7:30 a.m. on March 30.
To save the passengers, the captain brought the vessel to Baluk-Maluk Island in Hadji Muhtamad town. —KBK, GMA Integrated News