A passenger vessel carrying over 80 people and other rolling cargoes listed near the shoreline of Banton, Romblon past midnight on Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.

The PCG said the incident involving MV Maria Helena of Montenegro Shipping Lines Inc. occurred approximately 100 meters from the shoreline of Barangay Nasunugan, Banton, Romblon at around 1 a.m.

According to Captain Elmo Sumocol, the listing occurred after a tire of one of the rolling cargoes blew up, which broke the lashing.

The vessel had 93 passengers (including drivers), 34 crew members (including the captain), and 16 rolling cargoes on board.

Passengers started disembarking Maria Helena using its lifeboat at around 3 a.m.

The PCG team and local passenger boats in the vicinity waters also assisted in the safe disembarkation of the passengers. They were brought to the Barangay Nasunugan Covered Court to check their condition and for further assistance.

At around 4:35 a.m. the Captain Sumocol reported that all 93 passengers were safe.

However, the ship already listed 10° portside due to an imbalance of cargoes and seawater that entered the distressed vessel.

San Pedro Shipyard Divers, hired by Montenegro Shipping Lines, conducted underwater survey to inspect the bottom part of the aground vessel and for the preparation of laying of airbags. No signs of holes nor oil leakage was sighted in the hull according to the divers, as the Coast Guard reported on Monday.

MV Maria Theresa also arrived at the incident area to render necessary assistance.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) is currently monitoring the cleanup operation. The Marine Environmental Protection Group-Romblon said they contained the spilled oil within the oil spill boom, and they observed no sightings of oil slicks in the vicinity waters off Barangay Nasunugan.

Furthermore, it was also reported that Montenegro tugboat 1 with the additional provision of airbags, oil spill boom, water pump, generator, and empty drums arrived in the vicinity waters off Barangay Nasunugan, Banton, Romblon, on 17 July 2023.