44 saved from sinking banca

CEBU CITY — An unregistered banca that carried 40 Sto. Niño devotees and a crew of four capsized off a private wharf in Mandaue City, marring an otherwise smooth fluvial procession Saturday.

Authorities blamed a passenger who lit a firecracker aboard the motorized banca Kenneth and Kyle as the flotilla cruised in the Mactan Channel.

The firecracker accidentally landed on the boat’s starboard or right side near its engine, leaving a crack 10 inches in diameter on its plyboard, the Coast Guard (CG) said.

Commander Antonio Cuasito, CG District Central Eastern Visayas chief of staff, said the passengers panicked after seawater rushed through the breach and caused the vessel to capsize in less than five minutes.

It is the second straight year that a craft capsized during the fluvial procession.

Last year, sea marshals rescued 18 passengers, including a two-year-old girl, after the wooden hull of their banca broke. (more)

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