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‘No signs of life’ around ferry–Navy

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 13:56:00 06/23/2008

MANILA, Philippines –There are “no signs of life” around a capsized passenger ferry off the central province of Romblon on Monday, as rescue operations resumed, a spokesman for the Philippine Navy said.

Rescuers started their search at around 9 a.m., knocking on the exposed part of the hull of the M/V Princess of the Stars to check if people were trapped inside, but there was no response, Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said.

“Rescuers knocked on the hull of the M/V Princess but [there are] no signs of life,” Arevalo told reporters.

“We approached the ship, we knocked on it [hull] in order to give us a sign if ever somebody is inside, [to tell them that somebody is outside to help them. We were hoping someone would knock [from the inside], unfortunately, there was none,” he said.

The ship had 724 passengers, 121 crew, and four sea marshals when it stalled due to engine failure and capsized in stormy waters amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) on Saturday evening, Commodore Luis Tuason, chief of the Metro Manila Coast Guard, said.

Tuason corrected reports that the inter-island ferry, owned by
Sulpicio Lines, was carrying 626 passengers and 121 crewmen. The ship left Manila port on Friday evening, en route to Cebu City.

Tuason also said that it was unlikely that there were survivors trapped inside the ferry, since only 1/15 of the ship was above water.

“It’s not so high inside the ship,” Tuason told reporters, when asked for the chances of survival of the passengers and crew.

Tuason said there were greater chances for survival outside the ship, where survivors could have boarded life boats.

On Monday, 28 survivors on board a life boat were recovered in Mulanay town, in Quezon province, while another fatality was found, bringing the number of survivors to 32, and the number of confirmed deaths to five.

Tuason said the M/V Princess was listed as having life boats enough for
1,992 people, but could not immediately confirm if all its lifeboats wee on board at the time of the accident.

Two Navy patrol gunboats, a patrol ship, two helicopters, and a Navy
Islander plane have been deployed to the site of the capsized ship, to augment Coast Guard vessels, said Lieutenant General Cardozo Luna, Armed Forces Vice Chief of Staff.

A US Navy ship was also on its way from Okinawa, Japan to help in the search and rescue efforts, said National Disaster Coordinating Council
Executive Director Anthony Golez.

The casualty count has risen to 94 deaths, 67 injuries, and 92 missing, Golez told a news briefing in Camp Aguinaldo.

The tally does not include casualties from the M/V Princess of the Stars, which capsized off the central province of Romblon last Saturday, he said.

Of the 94 deaths, 59 are confirmed while 35 are unconfirmed, he said.

Asked why the casualty counts differed with that of the Red Cross, Golez said the NDCC tally was the official count, based on data from the Department of Health.

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Written by joelguinto

MonUTC2008-06-23T06:48:18+00:00UTC06bUTCMon, 23 Jun 2008 06:48:18 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

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