Survivors of the Deadliest Peacetime Shipwreck in Maritime History Were Savagely Mauled by Sharks

Yana Bostongirl

MV Doña Paz was a Japanese-built and Philippine-registered passenger ferry that sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector on December 20, 1987. The Dona Paz was en route to Manila, the capital city of the Philippines, from Leyte Island when the collision with the tanker happened.

The death toll was reported at 4,386 people lost in the disaster with only 25 survivors.

The Vector was on its way from Bataan to Masbate with 1,050,000 liters of gasoline and other petroleum products which ignited upon the collision and led to a raging fire that caused both vessels to sink within hours.

While some blame the catastrophe on the Vector because of its untrained crew, others point to the fact that the Doña Paz was seriously overcrowded with 2000 passengers not listed on the manifest. Designed to carry only 608 people, the vessel had between 3000-4000 passengers onboard on that fateful day. It was also discovered that the Doña Paz did not have a radio or life vests either as this excerpt explains: "Another survivor, Philippine Constabulary corporal Luthgardo Niedo, claimed that the lights aboard had gone out minutes after the collision, that there were not any life vests to be found on Doña Paz, and that the crewmen were running around in panic with the other passengers and none of the crew gave any orders nor made any attempt to organize the passengers. It was later said that the life jacket lockers had been locked up."

As a result, survivors were forced to leap into the flaming waters of the Tablas Strait with nothing but suitcases for flotation devices. Even though the majority of the victims burned to death, around 300 bodies were later recovered covered in shark bites.

Shockingly, it took 8 hours for the authorities to be apprised of the situation and another 8 hours for help to arrive.

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