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Probe on Taiwanese cargo ship 'Jin Ming Number 16' that sank off North Samar begins

Probe on foreign cargo ship that sank off North Samar begins
Joey A. Gabieta - January 23, 2018

TACLOBAN CITY-A composite team has started its investigation on the foreign cargo ship that sank in the waters off Northern Samar after it had been salvaged and towed to a port here.

“The ship will be turned over to the (Bureau of) Customs for safekeeping pending investigation,” said Commander Lawrence Roque of the Coast Guard.

Roque led the salvaging operation of Jin Ming Number 16, a Taiwanese cargo vessel that sank in the waters off Pambujan town, Northern Samar amid strong waves and wind spawned by Tropical Storm “Agaton” on January 2.

The ship, measuring 65 meters long and 12 meters wide, was drained with water and about 165,000 liters of fuel before it was towed to Tacloban port by Manila-based salvor company Harbor Stars Shipping.

The salvaging operation, which started on January 7, was finished in 11 days.

Roque said no one had claimed ownership of the vessel, which was manned by nine-crew members–a Taiwanese, seven Chinese and two Hong Kong nationals.

If no one would claim the vessel, he added it would be auctioned off by the Customs to help pay Harbor Stars Shipping for its services.

“We need about P5 million to pay to the salvor company and other related expenses,” he said.

Roque said the vessel only contained 1,700 cartoons of liquor with prints written in Chinese characters and several fish crates.

“But since there will be an investigation, I could not comment further on it,” he said.

A task force, composed of several government agencies like the Philippine National Police, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, and Coast Guard, was created to conduct an investigation on the ship on suspicion that it might be loaded with contraband after P125 million worth of cocaine was found in nearby Matnog town in Sorsogon province.