But walking among the living is a difficult thought to grasp right now if you are standing on the beaches of San Fernando, Romblon staring at what remains of Sulpicio Lines’ 23,000-ton ferry Princess of the Stars.
The scene cannot but bring on a bout of depression.
Pardon the unintended pun: a truly sinking feeling. The feeling that someone somewhere should hang for this. Dejavu is not even appropriate. This is unforgivable.
Here in Manila far from the murky waters off San Fernando, Mindoro we cannot sense the deathly quiet nor smell the stench of bloated bodies. But we are told that with at least 22 confirmed dead and 59 confirmed survivors, a staggering number of 780-plus souls remain missing and,by now, feared dead.
Yes the search and rescue choppers are still hovering atop the overturned hull of the ship with the top part of the bow jutting out of the water while coast guard ships and puny fishermen’s bancas circling the site looking for any sign of life.
The relatives of the missing are already wailing, grieving nervously at Manila’s Pier 12 waiting, hoping to hear something other than reports of more bodies being plucked out of the water or washing on the shore of San Fernando town.
But instead of hopeful news, the mayor of San Fernando was appealing on national radio late yesterday afternoon for body bags and lime so they could tend to the dead.
To underline her own despair and anger, the lady mayor described how they’ve been been forced to sprinkle white cement on the recovered cadavers just to stem the decomposition while waiting for help. She also complained: not a single call had come, she said, from Sulpicio Lines, to coordinate and help.
And while representatives of the company are reportedly going to Romblon via Aklan this morning, unless they can part the waters off Romblon and raise the dead, there is little else they can do.
The press reports now say how the shiptain’s order to abandon ship came only when Princess of the Stars was already tilting very badly so much so that the passengers were already in panic.
In fact even while the vessel was supposedly only three years and had a full complement of life boats and life vests, only four of the listed survivors had vests on.