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Archive for June 24th, 2008

Ferry dead now 70, brings total toll from ‘Frank’ to 361

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48 survivors rescued–Coast Guard

By Joel Guinto
First Posted 19:23:00 06/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) Divers recovered three bodies from the wreckage of the MV Princess of the Stars off Romblon province, bringing the death toll from the capsized ferry to 70, while 48 survivors have been rescued, the Philippine Coast Guard reported Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile, the number of persons confirmed killed during typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen), mostly by floods, reached 291. With the 70 ferry fatalities, this brought the total to 361. Another 166 persons were injured, Health Undersecretary Mario Villaverde said.

Frogmen from the Philippine Navy and the Philippine Coast Guard entered the MV Princess of the Stare for the first time Tuesday morning and fished out the three bodies.

The divers saw what looked like other human bodies in the dark waters.

The search was suspended for the night, but will resume Wednesday morning, said Lieutenant Commander Rogelio Villanueva, who represented the Coast Guard during the 6 p.m. briefing of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

“There were indications [of more bodies inside the ferry] but there was poor illumination,” Villanueva said.

Asked if there was an estimate of how many bodies were left inside the wreckage, Villanueva said: “We do not want to speculate at this point in time.”

“Hopefully, tomorrow [Wednesday] we can retrieve more bodies,” he said.

The inter-island ferry, owned by Sulpicio Lines, capsized in rough waters last Saturday at the height of Frank’s onslaught.

Villanueva said 67 fatalities were recovered from shore, 55 from Claveria town in Quezon province; eight from San Fernando town, Romblon province; and four from Mulanay town in Quezon.

Of the 48 survivors, 39 were found in Mulanay, five in Claveria, and four in San Fernando, Villanueva said, adding the number of survivors had been trimmed down from the 57 total they gave Monday evening, after some were found to have been involved in other sea mishaps.

Villanueva said divers were careful not to “indiscriminately” cut through the ship, since it might cause the wreck to sink, or endanger the rescuers.

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Tue+00:002008-06-24T14:20:03+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 24 Jun 2008 14:20:03 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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2 bodies recovered from inside ship–officials

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By Joel Guinto
First Posted 10:39:00 06/24/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Divers have entered the ferry that capsized over the weekend due to typhoon Frank (international codename: Fengshen) and recovered at least two bodies, officials of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Philippine Navy said.

One of the two recovered fatalities appeared to be an officer of the M/V Princess of the Stars, who was still clad in uniform and was holding a handheld radio, said Commodore Luis Tuason, chief of the Metro Manila Coast Guard.

The two bodies were found near an opening in the ship, where the divers had entered, Tuason said in a phone interview with reporters.

“Our problem is, it’s dark inside, and we really need search lights,” Tuason said.

He could not ascertain whether or not there were more bodies inside the ship. He added that the divers had not searched all of the compartments of the 24,000-ton ship.

Asked if there was still hope for survivors inside the ship, Tuason said: “Siguro may kahinaan ang chance [The chances are slim], but we are not saying that it’s not possible. We are hoping for the best.”

The divers entered the MV Princess of the Stars Tuesday morning, after failed attempts on Monday, said Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, commandant of the Philippine Coast Guard.

“The diving activity early this morning, we have gained access and penetrated the ship… We retrieved two bodies,” Tamayo said in a phone interview.

In a separate phone interview, Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo also confirmed that the divers have entered the ship.

The Coast Guard officials said plans to drill a hole into the ship could be put on hold, and divers would have to find entry points such as doorways and windows.

But Tamayo said drilling a hole could fuel tanks while Arevalo said that the drilling could hit the ship’s cargo, including vehicles, and divers would not be able to enter the ship through it.

“The best [option] at this time is through the accommodation doors or whatever existing opening,” Tamayo said.

At least 57 survivors and 20 fatalities of the ship have been recovered in Mulanay town, Quezon, and Burias Island, northwest of the ferry wreckage off Sibuyan Island in the central Philippines.

“We have expanded the search areas, as indicated by our recent discoveries in the areas far north. We’re searching in waters between Marinduque and Quezon,” said Captain Gilbert Rueras of the PCG.

“For as long as there is a small hope, there is an indication that persons are in the waters, we will continue to search,” he added.

A US Navy ship, which arrived in Sibuyan at 3:30 a.m., will help in the operations on Tuesday, said Anthony Golez, spokesman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council.

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Tue+00:002008-06-24T07:58:14+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Tue, 24 Jun 2008 07:58:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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