UK government warns against sea travel after three boats capsize

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UK government advice
The aftermath of the tragedy. Picture courtesy of the Philippine Red Cross.

The UK government has updated its travel advice for the Philippines to warn against sea travel following the deadly Iloilo-Guimaras tragedy.

In an updated advisory published today (Monday, August 5) the Foreign and Commonwealth Office warned against sea travel during the rainy season, which generally runs from June to December.

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The advice in full reads: 

On 3 August 2019 three ferry boats capsized in the Iloilo-Guimaras straits, with at least 30 lives lost. Avoid travel on ferries and passenger boats if possible, particularly in the rainy season (June-December). They are often overloaded, may lack necessary lifesaving equipment or be inadequately maintained and have incomplete passenger manifests. Storms can develop quickly and maritime rescue services in the Philippines may be limited. 

Three boats capsized off the coast of Iloilo-Guimaras Strait in separate incidents on Saturday. As we have previously reported, the death toll has now reached 31. 

The motorised, wooden-hulled boats were carrying a total of 96 passengers and crew when wild weather caused the vessels to overturn. Regional coast guard commander Commodore Allan dela Vega said it was “squalls” — or sudden strong gusts of wind at sea — that sunk the boats. He also said the vessels had set off during “good weather conditions”.

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Investigations into the tragedy are ongoing. 

The UK’s travel advisory also warns against all travel to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago due to terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups. “The FCO advise against all but essential travel to the remainder of Mindanao (excluding Camiguin, Dinagat and Siargao Islands) due to the threat of terrorism,” it reads.

Other pieces of UK government advice cover such things as earthquakes, airport security, terror hotspots, volcanoes, kidnapping, tornadoes, zika virus and harsh prison conditions.

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