Copied and pasted without formal permission but I feel the news must be spread. I invite Trans-Asia to reply and rebutt this report. We know they never will.
Passenger slams sunken ship’s crew, management
By: Francis Allan L. Angelo
BRIAN Daly, 75, was born in England and lived for sometime in Canada but he later moved to Iloilo after falling in love with his Ilongga wife Jonnah.
Brian, now a permanent resident of the Philippines, was among the more than 160 passengers of the ill-fated MV Asia Malaysia of Trans Asia Shipping Corp. which sank off the coast of Ajuy, Iloilo early morning of July 31, 2011.
While the cause of the ship’s sinking remains a mystery until now, Brian has a mouthful against the ship crew and its management.
The Dalys boarded Asia Malaysia on the evening of July 30 from Cebu City where they celebrated their wedding anniversary. Brian also took the opportunity to pick up his residence card from the Bureau of Immigration in Cebu.
Brian, who teaches business English to prospective overseas workers, said Asia Malaysia is their favorite ship because of its great cabin accommodation and a very good restaurant aside from a karaoke bar on the upper deck.
“We’ve traveled on the ship 10 times over the past 7 years,” Brian said.
The trip from Cebu was just as pleasant as their vacation despite the gloomy skies due to a tropical storm battering Luzon island.
“We settled in our air conditioned cabin with TV and hot and cold shower. Later, we went for a nice meal in the restaurant and then to the upper open deck to enjoy the breeze and sing a few songs. We then returned to our cabin for an early sleep just before 10pm,” he said.
A light sleeper, Brian said he woke up when he felt slipping down to the bottom of the bunk bed. As he got up, he realized that the cabin floor was already tilting at a 30-degree angle.
“Having owned several boats including a 38-foot Ketch and having graduated the Canadian Coastguard Power Squadron Program, I knew that the ferry was almost at a critical stage of turning over. Waking up Jonnah, we quickly donned our life jackets and went to the muster area where other passengers were gathering and attempting to put on their life jackets,” Brian said.
Brian said not one of Asia Malaysia’s crew informed them that the ship was already listing to its starboard or right side.
“There had been no one knocking on cabin doors to alert the passengers, no announcements to go the mustering stations and no announcement to put on life jackets and no members of the crew in their white uniforms. This meant we were on our own at this point with no crew members to assist or guide us,” he added.
To avoid confusion and panic, Brian said he took control and instructed other passengers to move to the upper deck to avoid drowning in the lower decks.
Their situation looked like a scene from the movie Titanic “except the steep angle ran the full length of the ship and anything lose or not bolted down slipped down to the water’s edge.”
Brian said he saw some seamen drop the canisters of inflatable life boats from an angle of 30 degrees from the port or left side of the ship, thus they did not see if it popped open or not.
“Some of the able seamen were sliding down the steep slope only to be rescued from going into the sea by other able seamen trying to undo some of the stacked rafts which was an impossible task at the acute angle. At about 5:40am it was starting to get light and we could see a couple of rescue ships at a distance of about maybe 6 miles,” he added.
The group later decided to move to the ship’s stern or rear end “as we could not get off the ship to be rescued on either the port or starboard sides.”
Brian said some of the crew managed to put out two very narrow walkways of around 18 inches wide and 10 feet long. One plank was 8 feet above the waves on the starboard side, while the other was around 15 feet on the port side.
Using the walkways, the passengers gingerly crossed to the waiting lifeboats except for a 70-year-old woman and her daughter who leapt into the sea and swam to the nearest raft with help from the seamen.
Contrary to the accounts of Asia Malaysia skipper Romualdo Geraldizo that big waves overwhelmed the ship, Brian said the water was only choppy.
The high angle of the tilting ship and choppy waters made it dangerous for the passengers to cross the walkway. Jonnah was able to get on one of the rafters but Brian said he fell on the boat on the right side of his body after a water swell moved the boat to one side.
“No sooner had we carried out that difficult task, we moved to one side to allow others to also jump and join us. Then we had to maneuver ourselves into another wild bucking inflatable nearby to make room for others waiting to jump in,” he said.
Brian said they boarded oil tanker Phil-Visayas which helped rescue some of Asia Malaysia’s passengers. They then proceeded to Bacolod City, the tanker’s destination.
ASHAMED OR AFRAID?
On board the tanker, Brian said he saw another “despicable” actuation by some of Asia Malaysia’s crewmembers.
“A group of uniformed crew members took off their uniforms and placed them in a black plastic garbage bag and mingled among the survivors near the bow of the ship. Why? Were they ashamed?” he said.
Worse, Asia Malaysia crewmembers on board the tanker got bowls of rice and canned fish for themselves and ate their meal in front of the survivors.
“This I thought was despicable, as it showed no concern for their passengers’ well being, just their own.
Brian said his wife took pictures of the crew’s action which they later forwarded to Philippine Coast Guard investigators.
Despite his disappointment, Brian said the kitchen crew of Asia Malaysia were among the real heroes in the accident.
“The restaurant crewmembers were the most concerned about the welfare of the survivors, checking to see if everyone was okay, ensuring that those who needed hot coffee were provided by members of the tanker crew. Later the restaurant crew cooked rice and canned fish for all the survivors. They were the real heroes of the Asia Malaysia disaster and should be recognized as such,” he said.
From Bacolod City, the Dalys and other survivors boarded another ferry bound for Iloilo City. Although he declined at first, Brian went to St. Paul’s Hospital to check if he suffered injuries from his bad fall on the rafter.
After three x-rays and two ultrasound examinations, seven blood tests and two units of blood transfusion, Brian went home on August 7. Trans Asia footed the P34,000 hospital bill.
“Now that is a wedding anniversary to remember. We had lost everything we had, including our personal possessions, passports, money, etc. and we only had the clothes we were wearing. But at least we survived. We are still alive, we have each other and everything else can be replaced,” Brian said while fingering the key to their cabin, his only reminder of the tragedy.
Although happy to be alive and well, Brian said he was seething at the treatment they received from Trans Asia.
The firm promised the survivors P4,000 each as a sort of compensation aside from the small amount given to them so they can go home to their respective places.
On August 6, Brian said Trans Asia agents made them sign a form to prove that they have claimed the P4,000 compensation.
“I was disgusted to discover that the fare given to us right after the accident were deducted from the P4,000. Just how low can Trans Asia get? That is truly disgusting to treat their fellow Filipinos that way,” he said.
Worse, Brian said he got nothing as his P4,000 compensation was deducted from the hospital bills.
“To rub salt on the wound, they asked for my ID so they could get the seniors discount. Now that is despicable. And when my wife was given her P4,000 the taxi fare from the hospital to our home was also deducted,” he said.
Brian said they lost more than P30,000 worth of valuables after the accident, but he is not complaining for himself but for other passengers who might not have the opportunity to gripe about their plight.
“I told the company to do something about this or else I will come out in the media. As of Wednesday, I heard nothing from them. I can always replace what we lost, but what about the less fortunate survivors who may have lost their life’s savings aside from the trauma they will suffer for some time or even their entire lifetime? This has to change because it’s the most despicable way to treat a countryman,” Brian said.
TDG tried to get Trans Asia’s comment but no one was available to speak in the company’s behalf.