Aug 18, 2013

Philippine ship collision: Toll rises to 34

Philippine ship collision: Toll rises to 34. The death toll in the collision of two ships in the Philippines rose to 34 Sunday after the retrieval of two bodies. While 751 people were rescued, 85 were still missing, officials said.

Passenger vessel MV St. Thomas Aquianas and cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7 collided off Lawis Ledge, Talisay city, Friday night. The passenger vessel, which was bound for Cebu city, sank immediately after the incident. However, all the 38 crew members of the cargo vessel bound for Davao city were safe.

A total of 751 people on board the ill-fated ferry MV St. Thomas Aquinas have been rescued so far, Xinhua quoted Hilario Davide III, governor of Cebu province, as saying Sunday.

The rescue operation, which was stopped Saturday evening due to high waves, resumed at 8 a.m. Sunday. "Hopefully more missing can be found alive," Davide said.

Three helicopters dispatched by the coast guard and navy were hovering over the coastline to search for survivors. Divers from Manila will assist in the rescue operation.

Commodore William Melad, Philippine Coast Guard commander in Central Visayas, said divers had gone into the sunken passenger ship to search for the missing people. But an oil leak at the scene of the incident hampered the search effort, and posed a threat to the divers.