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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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Written by joelguinto

TueUTC2008-06-24T07:58:14+00:00UTC06bUTCTue, 24 Jun 2008 07:58:14 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

Posted in Uncategorized

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