SOLYMONE BLOG

200 MISSING, 24 DEAD IN PHILIPPINE FERRY DISASTER


CEBU, Philippines - The St Thomas Aquinas ferry was carrying 870 passengers and crew when it collided with a cargo ship yesterday night in calm waters near the port of Cebu, The Philippines' second biggest city, authorities said.
While 629 people had been rescued by early today morning, 217 were still unaccounted for and 24 bodies had been retrieved, according to the coastguard's headquarters in Manila.
One survivor, Maribel Manalo, 23, recounted to her brother the horror of suddenly being plunged into the cold water in darkness, and emerging from the chaos without her mother.
"She said there was a banging noise then the boat suddenly started sinking," the brother, Arvin Manalo, told AFP.
"They quickly strapped on life jackets and then jumped into the dark sea. She said they felt like they were pulled under. My sister said she pushed our mother up, but they got separated.
"My sister was rescued. My sister knows how to swim, but my mother does not."
He said their mother, 56, remained missing.
The accident occurred at 9:00pm (Malaysian time) in the mouth of a narrow strait leading into the port between two and three kilometres from shore, authorities said.
Fifty-eight babies were among the passengers on board the ferry, according to the coastguard, and it was unclear how many of them survived.
Rear Admiral Luis Tuason, vice commandant of The Philippine coastguard, told DZMM radio just after sunrise there were hopes that some of the missing had been picked up by fishermen who had joined in the rescue effort, or were still at sea.
But Tuason said he expected the death toll would climb substantially.

Source: The Malaysia Insider...More...
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