Sunday, 6 September 2009

Philippine ferry disasters

A remarkable 931 people are now said to have been rescued from the Philippine SuperFerry 9 which sank off the Zamboanga peninsula about 500 miles south of Manila. Of the ship’s 851 passengers and 117 crew, nine are known to have died.

The vessel had begun listing during the night, but the captain seems to have managed an orderly evacuation using life rafts before she went down, and, fortunately, there were a number of other naval and merchant vessels in the area to pick up the survivors.

It was an altogether happier outcome than the sinking of another Philippines ferry, the Dona Paz, in 1987 in which up to 4,375 people were drowned (see my blog of August 7th), making it the world’s worst peacetime shipwreck.

The islands have suffered a number of other major maritime disasters, such as the loss of the Dona Paz's sister ship, the Dona Marilyn, in 1988, which cost up to 300 lives, and the wreck of the Princess of the Stars ferry which capsized during a typhoon in 2008 at the cost of 800 lives.


  1. Dear Mr. Disaster Historian,

    A fascinating post regarding the terrible business in the Philippines, but waht about matters below the waves? I have been delving around recently looking at submarine disasters. Sadly, it is not all like 'Grey Lady Down' or 'Hunt for Red Cotober'. Gene Hackman and Charlton Heston are nowhere to be seen and the result of a submarine experiencing serious difficulties too often leads to them sinking.

    Did you know that since the commencement of this decade over 200 people have been killed in submarine accidents, which have averaged almost two per year!

    Everyone remembers the terrible loss of life on the Kursk, but only last year, the Russian navy suffered 20 dead during a freon gas leak on a brand new Project 971 Shchuka-B (NATO: Akula II) nuclear attack boat.

    Moreover, just look at how unlucky the US Navy's 'Los Angeles' class nuclear attack boats have been. One ship, the USS Hartford, being involved in two mishaps. The Brits have also had their fair share of problems, with a Vanguard class nuclear missile boat coliding with its French counterpart earlier this year.

    But have submarine operations got more dangerous since the end of the Cold War? Did the Cold War witness a higher loss of life for submariners? Moreover, what was the worst submarine disaster of that period?

  2. disaster historian20 September 2009 at 09:50

    good to hear from you again Tom. I think that after the Kursk, one of the worst peacetime submarine disasters was the loss of the British ship, the Thetis, while on trials off Birkenhead in just before World War Two. 99 people were drowned when the sub was flooded through its torpedo tubes. But maybe other readers of this blog know of worse?