By Kathryn Stone 2015-07-06 14:51:22
Police in the Philippines have filed murder charges against the owner and crew of the M/V Kim Nirvana, which sank last Thursday killing over 60.
The charges were filed on Friday against a total of 19 people including the ferry owner Joge Bung Zarco and the captain Warren Oliverio. An initial police investigation has revealed that the M/V Kim Nirvana made a sharp turn just before it capsized off Ormoc port.
The ferry is believed to have been overloaded as over 204 people so far are known to have been aboard the vessel, while the actual capacity of the ferry was 194 according to the Philippine Coast Guard. Survivor accounts make mention of the M/V Kim Nirvana transporting 80 sacks of cement as well as rice cargo. Sudden swerving reported during the vessel’s last moments may have been the result of cargo shifting.
As of Monday the death toll for the incident has reached 61. The ferry capsized only minutes after leaving the Port of Ormoc. Over 140 people were rescued from the sunken vessel including three Americans. Two of the Americans were involved in bringing the homicide charges, while another was involved in filing charges for reckless imprudence.
In a statement released over the weekend, the United Filipino Seafarers criticized local maritime authorities for approving the design and accreditation of the ferry.
“By merely looking at the picture of M/V Kim Nirvana, you don’t have to be a maritime expert to say that this motorized banca is seaworthy or not. You can immediately see that the stability of this double decker vessel is questionable. How it passed the safety standards is the most controversial question of the day.”
The Philippine Star similarly listed over a dozen maritime accidents occurring in the past twenty years, all of which involve fatalities.
If found guilty the owner and crew of the M/V Kim Nirvana could face charges up to 40 years in prison for each count of murder.