MANILA—The Department of Transportation on Saturday ordered an investigation into the ferry that capsized between Dinahican, Quezon and Polilio Island, an incident that left at least 5 people dead.
In a statement, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade ordered the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and Maritime Industry Authority (MARINA) to probe the accident that occurred in rough waters off Infanta town and enforce precautions to avoid a similar incident from happening again.
"We want this latest incident of sea mishap be investigated on as quickly and as soon as possible so we can immediately implement safety nets and preventive measures. Ensuring the safety and security of travellers must be our priority," the statement read.
The Mercraft 3 capsized on Thursday because of bad weather, highlighting frequent boat accidents in a country composed of more than 7,000 islands.
"Meanwhile, PCG Commodore Joel Garcia said that there was no overloading of the capsized vessel, which has an authorized capacity of 286 passengers. There were 251 passengers, and seven crew members were on board the vessel when it sank," the statement read.
It added that 243 passengers survived the incident, while six bodies have been retrieved and three more passengers are still missing.
"For his part, MARINA Administrator Al Amaro said that MARINA will facilitate immediate determination of the cause of accident in order to ensure passenger safety," the statement added.
Amaro added that the owner of the ferry has shouldered the victims' hospital bills and offered assistance to bury the dead.
Malacañang on Friday said a probe is underway into the ferry's capsizing.