Unlike the Titanic, the MV Dona Paz disaster is rarely mentioned. We had no recollection of it until we read about it online and the reports were truly harrowing.
On 20th December, 1987, the MV Dona Paz collided with an oil tanker, the MT Vector. The Dona Paz was sailing from Tacloban City in the Philippines to Manila the capital city.
The oil tanker had a crew of 13 and the Dona Paz may have had as many as 4,000 people on board (accounts of passenger numbers vary,) and, if so, was seriously overcrowded.
The MT Vector crew were (it was later found out) underqualified and the vessel’s licence had expired.
When both ships collided, the Vector’s cargo ignited and caused a fire that spilled into the water and rapidly spread to the Dona Paz.
The Dona Paz sank within 2 hours of collision and the MT Vector within 4 hours. Both ships sank in about 1,788 feet of water in the shark-infested Tablas Strait.
Only 26 survivors were rescued from the water. 24 were from the Dona Paz and 2 from the MT Vector.
Over 4,000 souls were lost. This was a disaster of unimaginable horror, suffering and magnitude.
The tragedy has been called “Asia’s Titanic,”but, unlike the Titanic, it appears to be a forgotten tragedy.
We hope that is not the case.