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Ferry carrying over 800 sinking in storm–officials

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By Joel Guinto
Agence France-Presse, INQUIRER.net
First Posted 08:25:00 06/22/2008

MANILA, Philippines– (UPDATE 3) A ferry carrying over 800 passengers was sinking off the coast of the central Philippines after being battered by huge waves caused by a typhoon, reports and officials said Sunday.

“This is already a confirmed report,” Nanette Tansingco, mayor of the coastal town of San Fernando in Romblon province, said of the sinking.

The M/V Princess of the Star sent a distress signal late on Saturday from the area after becoming stranded when Typhoon Fengshen swept across the country.

“I sent a speed boat to check on the report, and they saw the boat submerged with a hole in the hull. They saw the name Princess of the Star and there were at least four bodies there,” the mayor told dzMM radio.

The ship was reported to have capsized at around 6 p.m. Saturday off Sibuyan Island, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman of the Philippine Navy, told INQUIRER.net.

The vessel encountered engine trouble, lost power, and was “dead in the water,” Office of Civil Defense Administrator Glenn Rabonza said in a phone interview.

Three Navy vessels have been readied to rescue the passengers and crew. The vessel nearest the area, the PG378 stationed in Masbate province, had to abort its rescue mission due to “gigantic waves, pounding rain, and gusty winds,” Arevalo said.

“We are waiting until the weather is at least permissive [before resuming rescue efforts],” Arevalo said in a text message.

“We don’t want to complicate the problem if our personnel will later be the ones needing rescue,” he added.

According to the Coast Guard, the ferry’s manifest recorded 702 passengers including 50 children as well as 100 crew. The civil defense office said the ship carried 626 passengers and 121 crew members.

The ferry capsized about three to four kilometers (1.8 to 2.4 miles) off San Fernando town, local radio reports said.

“I have not seen any survivors,” resident Melanie Rotoni told dzMM radio.

“Life jackets and debris litter the store. I saw a dead woman in her 40s along the shore but she was the only body I saw. There is no one else.”

View article as posted on INQUIRER.net

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Written by joelguinto

SunUTC2008-06-22T09:03:09+00:00UTC06bUTCSun, 22 Jun 2008 09:03:09 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

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