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Archive for June 25th, 2008

At least 2 more bodies found in sunken ferry

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 09:28:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2) At least two more bodies were retrieved from the wreckage of the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island in the central province of Romblon, officials said Wednesday evening.

In a television interview, Transportation Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista said the number of bodies recovered from the upturned ship has reached five. Frogmen retrieved three bodies on Tuesday.

“Of the 15 [bodies] sighted from the bridge of the vessel, we have with us five,” said Bautista, who heads a government task force overseeing rescue and retrieval efforts.

Authorities have so far confirmed to have recovered 70 bodies and 48 survivors. Only three of the confirmed fatalities were found inside the ship, the rest were found at sea or were washed ashore.

In a telephone interview, Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said he has received reports that as much as 10 bodies have been recovered from the ship, but this could not immediately be confirmed.

The M/V Princess of the Stars capsized in rough seas last Saturday, amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen). It was carrying 862 passengers and crew.

Officials gave varying estimates on the number of bodies found drifting at sea. Not all of the bodies, however, have been fished out of the waters and added to the official casualty count.

Bautista said 115 bodies were spotted “somewhere between Burias Island and Camarines Sur.”

At an earlier news conference at the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC), Lieutenant Commander Rogelio Villanueva of the Coast Guard said 87 bodies were found floating off the coasts of the provinces of Masbate, Quezon, and Camarines Norte.

Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo said the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command (Solcom) estimated around 50 bodies some 17 nautical miles of Burias Island in Masbate.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T15:15:31+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 15:15:31 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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87 more bodies found at sea by Coast Guard

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Gin used to deodorize corpses

By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:29:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE) The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) has spotted 87 bodies, believed to be those of passengers and crew of the ill-fated MV Princess of the Stars, adrift at sea or washed ashore in the provinces of Camarines Norte, Quezon, and Masbate on Wednesday.

It was not immediately clear if the Coast Guard count included the estimated 50 bodies the Navy said search teams had reached and begun retrieving from the sea west of Burias Island, Masbate, where several fatalities from the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars had washed up earlier.

The majority of the remains reported by the Coast Guard were found in Pasacao town in Camarines Sur province, Lieutenant Commander Rogelio Villanueva said during a news conference of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC).

The 87 have not been added to the official death toll from the ferry, which stands at 70, Villanueva said. There are 48 survivors thus far.

Divers also searched the upturned wreck of the ferry off Sibuyan Island in Romblon, hoping to recover at least 15 more bodies that were seen in the first class dining section, but there was no immediate word if these had been retrieved, Lieutenant Commander Rogelio Villanueva of the Philippine Coast Guard said.

A day before, divers retrieved three bodies from the wreck.

As more bodies were found, rescuers appealed for more body bags and chemicals, such as formalin and lime, to slow down decomposition and arrest the foul smell from the remains.

Navy rescue teams have resorted to using gin to deodorize the corpses, said Philippine Navy spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

Arevalo said the big group of bodies was found some 17 nautical miles west of Burias by an American reconnaissance aircraft that had joined the search and which immediately notified local authorities.

The plane had also found three bodies on the shore of Palana Point on Burias earlier Wednesday, Arevalo said. These bodies were recovered by the same team now engaged in retrieving the 50 bodies.

Also on Wednesday, 13 bodies were recovered from shore in San Pascual, Masbate, said Colonel John Estoesta, chief of the Air Force Tactical Operations Group 4.

A day earlier, 19 bodies were recovered in San Pascual. These were buried amid fears the decomposing bodies could cause an outbreak of disease and also because of the foul smell, Estoesta said, quoting town Mayor Zacharina Lazaro.

In Pasacao town, Camarines Sur province, three bodies were recovered at around 10:45 a.m. Wednesday.

The bodies, which were brought to the Tablas Airport in Romblon, have been identified as Orlando Langaman Cueva, Felipe Omandac Jr., and Diane Rose Laborte, Captain Lea Santiago, spokesman of the Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command, said.

The NDCC is expected to give a wrap-up of the day’s search at a news conference at 6 p.m.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T13:45:22+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 13:45:22 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Manila Coast Guard chief relieved

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 17:01:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Coast Guard’s Manila station commander official has been relieved from his post to give way to the investigation into the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars, his superior said.

Commander Erwin Balagas was replaced by Commander Danilo Ubaldo, said Commodore Luis Tuason, Coast Guard chief for the National Capital Region.

Coast Guard Commandant Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo ordered Balagas’ relief, Tuason said in a phone interview.

“Without anyone saying that he can he held liable, he was relieved, pending the results of the investigation,” Tuason said.

Tamayo wants to give the Board of Marine Inquiry a “free hand to determine the liabilities, if there are any,” Tuason said.

The Sulpicio Lines-owned Princess of the Stars, carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized in rough seas amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) last Saturday.

It was sailing from Manila to Cebu City.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T13:44:17+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 13:44:17 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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CHR cites poor living conditions in 6 rebel officers’ cells

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 12:53:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The six military officers facing trial for their alleged involvement in the foiled coup in February 2006 had been placed in detention cells that had poor living conditions, according to an official of the Commission on Human Rights.

CHR Chairperson Leila de Lima, who inspected the jails at the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (ISAFP) compound in Camp Aguinaldo on Wednesday, also noted the poor ventilation.

The CHR chief was accompanied by Bayan Muna partylist Representative Satur Ocampo, Gabriela partylist Representative Liza Maza, Bukidnon Representative Teofisto Guingona III, and Quezon Representative Lorenzo Tañada III.

The six officers detained at the ISAFP are: Major General Renato Miranda, Colonels Ariel Querubin and Orlando de Leon, and Lieutenant Colonel Achilles Segumalian from the Marines, and Lieutenant Colonel Edmundo Malabanjot and Major Jason Aquino from the Army Scout Rangers.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T13:42:54+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 13:42:54 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Air Force flies planeload of relief goods to Iloilo

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 15:25:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — An Air Force C-130 cargo plane left Manila for Iloilo City Wednesday afternoon to deliver relief goods to the flood-ravaged Western Visayas region.

Armed Forces chief General Alexander Yano and Air Force chief Lieutenant General Pedrito Cadungog saw off the plane at the Villamor Airbase in Pasay City.

Also on Wednesday, five US Navy ships, including the USS Ronald Reagan, an aircraft carrier, were expected to arrive in the region to help with relief and reconstruction efforts, military spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Ernesto Torres Jr. said.

Wednesday’s flight was the 15th C-130 relief sortie to Iloilo City, where over 200 people were killed by floods caused by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen), Cadungog said.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T13:40:06+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 13:40:06 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 pm06

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Army, MILF in fierce fighting in Sarangani; one rebel killed

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 11:38:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — Army troops and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels engaged in a fierce firefight in the southern province of Sarangani on Wednesday, leaving at least one rebel killed, a regional military spokesman said.

The encounter in Ticulab village, Maitum town, started at 6:30 a.m. and was ongoing as of late Wednesday morning, said Major Armand Rico, information officer of the Eastern Mindanao Command.

Rico could not immediately ascertain the scale of the fighting, but said troops have requested for ground and air support.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T04:00:50+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 04:00:50 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Navy recovers 3 more bodies off Burias Island

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 10:51:00 06/25/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Navy has recovered three more bodies believed to be from the ferry that capsized at the height of typhoon “Frank’s” (international codename: Fengshen) fury over the weekend on the shores of Burias Island on Wednesday, and was en route to recover around 30 more in open sea, a Navy spokesman said.

The fatalities, supposed passengers of the MV Princess of the Stars, were found by a reconnaissance aircraft from the United Sates military, that in turn, alerted local authorities, said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

The victims, all wearing life jackets, were found on the beach in Palana point early this morning. One of the three could be a foreigner based on the skin color, Arevalo added.

The Navy’s Patrol Ship 28, which recovered the three, is sailing to 17 nautical miles off Burias Island to recover the 30 others, Arevalo said.

Referring to the three bodies found in Palana point, Arevalo said: “They were wearing life vests. They [appeared to have] died struggling, due to hypothermia.”

“Our theory is, they could have jumped from the ship but they did not reach the life rafts,” Arevalo said.

Several confirmed fatalities from the M/V Princess of the Stars were found in Burias Island. The inter-island ferry, carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized due to rough seas from Typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) last Saturday.

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Wed+00:002008-06-25T03:59:46+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Wed, 25 Jun 2008 03:59:46 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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