03 August 2012

Rescued Koreans safe in Subic, but their barges still unlocated

The seven Korean nationals rescued off the coast of Zambales on Thursday are now safe and sound in this free port, but the barges they have been towing when they nearly sank due to heavy rains and strong winds are not yet located as of press time.

A top official of the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) said the rescued Koreans remain aboard the Philippine Coast Guard’s BRP EDSA II which has docked here after the rescue.

They were identified as Jeon Hong Jong, 47; Kim Kwang Soo, 59; Chi Chong Shik, 43; Kim In Choi, 44; Kim Dong Yang, 30; O Bong Ju, 60; and Han Jung Jeong, 61.

“According to the latest information, the Koreans are now just awaiting instructions from their shipping agent in Manila. In the meantime, they remain aboard BRP EDSA II and they’re all doing well,” said SBMA Chairman Roberto Garcia.

The Korean nationals were rescued early Thursday morning from a sinking tugboat off the coast of Zambales, as raging winds and strong rains battered the province.

The Koreans were found aboard M/Tug Kosco 202 in the waters southwest of Capones Island in San Antonio, Zambales at around 6:00 a.m. Philippine Coast Guard crewmen on board BRP EDSA II came to their rescue after the Koreans sent out SOS signals.

The Coast Guard found the tugboat half-submerged in water and got the crew out using life rafts.

The rescued Koreans were then brought to the SBMA Dispensary where they underwent routine medical check-up. None of the rescued Korean nationals were injured.

According to Jong, who is the captain of MV/Tug Kosco 202, their tugboat was pulling two brand-new barges, PB 3207 and PB 3026, that came from Shanghai, China.

Jong said that they were headed for Jakarta, Indonesia when they encountered rough waters off Zambales due to inclement weather. He said they decided to cut off the barges connected to their tugboat when the barges began to fill up with water.

He added that they decided to send SOS signals when their tugboat’s engine room also began taking in water.

According to Romeo Ranojo, SBMA maritime security chief, a local tugboat owned by the salvage firm Malayan, M/Tug Defiance, went to search for the barges but failed to locate them.

It is still unclear whether the abandoned barges sank or went adrift. (FMD/MPD-SBMA)

Korean nationals undergo check-up at the SBMA Dispensary in the Subic Bay Freeport Zone after they were rescued on Thursday from a sinking tugboat off the coast of Zambales.