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Archive for June 26th, 2008

PCG: 124 dead, 56 survivors in ferry mishap found

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 18:04:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The number of confirmed deaths from the sinking of the MV Princess of the Stars province has risen to 124, while 56 survivors, including five crewmen, have been accounted, data from the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) showed.

The passenger ferry was carrying 862 passengers and crew when it capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon in the evening of June 21, the height of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen).

The tally of the Coast Guard Action Center said 98 of the dead are “unidentified,” while 19 are male, five are female, and two are unidentified children.

Forty of the survivors are male and six are female, while five others remain unidentified.

The five rescued crewmen are Renato Lunarias, Roel Vibo, Ciriaco Nuñez, Fel Gilig, and Estanislao Tura.

It was not clear from the PCG report if the death toll includes remains retrieved from the wreckage of the ship.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-26T10:25:46+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 26 Jun 2008 10:25:46 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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14 bodies recovered off Burias Island–Navy

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 16:25:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — At least 14 bodies floating at sea and believed to be from the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars, were recovered off Burias Island in Masbate by Navy search teams Wednesday, a spokesman for the Philippine Navy said Thursday.

And today, the Navy ship BF352 is headed back to Burias Island to recover two more bodies, a male and a female whose hands were tied together, leading rescuers to believe that the two were a couple, said Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo.

On Wednesday, the Navy Patrol Ship 28 recovered three bodies on the shore of Palana point in Burias Island, then sailed 14 nautical miles west to recover seven more, Arevalo said in a phone interview.

The BF352 recovered four bodies, two males and two females, from Colorado Point on Wednesday, the Navy spokesman said.

The floating bodies were spotted by the P3 Orion, a US military surveillance plane. Arevalo said.

Estimates of the number of bodies floating off the coasts of Masbate, Camarines Sur, and Quezon vary. The Coast Guard placed it at 87 while Transportation undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista placed it at 115.

Arevalo said the bodies were located at a distance from each other, and the Navy ships had to sail from one location to another. A rubber boat was used to fish out the remains and board them on the ship.

“Just to give the proper perspective, when seen by Orion from above, based on the height, it looked like the dead bodies are near each other in a small location, but on the ground, the bodies are scattered,” the spokesman said.

“You have to pick up one after the other, that’s why the retrieval is not that fast,” he said.

Quoting rescuers’ accounts, Arevalo said: “Kahapon, kakargahin mo yung patay halos nalalasog na yung katawan [Yesterday, we carried bodies that were falling apart].”

A helicopter dropped cadaver bags for the search teams on Wednesday, but Arevalo said these were not enough.

“We need more cadaver bags, apog [lime], formalin, hand gloves, and face masks, not just surgical masks, because the odor penetrates it,” he said.

The M/V Princess of the Stars, carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized in rough waters off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) last Saturday.

As of the last official count on Tuesday, the Coast Guard confirmed 48 survivors and 70 casualties, three of which were recovered from the ship and the rest in surrounding coastal provinces.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-26T09:40:16+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 26 Jun 2008 09:40:16 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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DoH allays fears of disease in handling decomposing bodies

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 14:14:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DoH) has allayed fears over the spread of disease from handling decomposing bodies, following reports that remains of alleged passengers and crew of the capsized M/V Princess of the Stars were buried in mass graves.

At the same time, the DoH sent 500 body bags for search teams involved in scouring the ferry and surrounding coastal provinces where several bodies had drifted, said physician Eric Tayag, chief of the National Epidemiology Center.

Asked what disease could be contracted from handling dead bodies,
Tayag said: “Practically nothing, because when we die, most of the
[disease-causing] organisms die with us.”

“There is no risk if they smell or if they come accidentally in contact with [the bodies],” Tayag told a news conference hosted by the National Disaster Coordinating Council in Camp Aguinaldo.

Nonetheless, Tayag advised rescuers to wear protective equipment such as gloves to guard against infection, which was more likely when open wounds or skin abrasions come in contact with human remains.

He also advised rescuers to wear face masks to block off the foul odor from the decomposing bodies.

Tayag said those buried in mass graves would be exhumed later for proper identification.

The M/V Princess of the Stars, carrying 862 passengers and crew, capsized in rough waters off Sibuyan Island in Romblon province amid the onslaught of typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) last Saturday.

The Coast Guard has confirmed 48 survivors and 70 casualties, three of which were recovered from the ship and the rest from surrounding coastal provinces.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-26T07:45:57+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 26 Jun 2008 07:45:57 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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‘Frank’ death toll nears 500, excluding ferry victims–NDCC

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net
First Posted 13:48:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines — The number of casualties from floods caused by typhoon “Frank” (international codename: Fengshen) has risen to close to 500, following belated reports from hard-hit Western Visayas, the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) said.

This does not include victims of the capsized MV Princess of the Stars, the NDCC said.

Of the total dead, 416 are from the Western Visayas. Of the 498, 221 have been identified while 277 are unidentified, the NDCC said Thursday.

The storm also left 288 people injured and 263 missing, the NDCC said.

Office of Civil Defense Administrator Glen Rabonza said the death count rose from close to 300 Wednesday evening after reports from the field were consolidated and validated, he said.

The floods also affected 2,443,646 people, 293,438 of whom were housed in evacuation centers, the NDCC said.

In Western Visayas alone, 1,487,106 persons were affected, 184,991 of whom are in evacuation centers. Iloilo province had the most number of affected persons, 673,088, of whom 52,397 were sheltered in evacuation centers.

The last official casualty count from the ill-fated M/V Princes of the Stars was placed at 70, with 48 survivors. The ship was carrying 862 passengers and crew when it capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon Saturday.

Search and rescue operations inside the ship and in neighboring coastal provinces resumed on Thursday.

“We are still on rescue mode. We may still find some who may have floated in their life vests. We are not giving up,” Rabonza said.

The Coast Guard said there were 87 bodies adrift at sea off Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Quezon.

The Navy estimated the number of bodies that were found at sea or washed ashore at 50 while Transportation undersecretary Elena Bautista placed it at 115.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-26T07:44:17+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 26 Jun 2008 07:44:17 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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Abu Sayyaf reduced to ‘plain bandits’–Armed Forces chief

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By Joel Guinto
INQUIRER.net, Agence France-Presse
First Posted 12:50:00 06/26/2008

MANILA, Philippines – (UPDATE) The Abu Sayyaf has been reduced to being “plain bandits” that make money off kidnap for ransom activities due to a “leadership vacuum” that has made funds scarce, Armed Forces Chief Alexander Yano said Thursday.

This was shown by the kidnapping of an ABS-CBN television news crew and their guide in Sulu province earlier this month, Yano told the
Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) at a forum in Makati City.

Since the death of Abu Sayyaf chieftain Khadaffy Janjalani and his second-in command, Jainal Antel Sali alias Abu Solaiman two years ago, Yano said the military had not monitored an “acknowledged leader.”

“We still look at them as a loose organization with some splinter groups, in fact, some of them may be conducting their own operations, and now, has degenerated into a money-making group devoid of any ideology or cause,” Yano said.

Yano said funding from the group’s “conduits” outside the country have been “closed or cut off” following the demise of their leaders.

“We cannot confirm a single leader in the stature of Janjalani, who could have welded together the Abu Sayyaf into a united, formidable group,” he said.

The military chief reiterated that intelligence-driven “surgical strikes” by specialized units, and not an “all-out” offensive, was underway against the al Qaeda-linked rebels.

Though barred from combat, the American advisers have provided intelligence as well as training that helped local troops make headway in counter-terrorist operations, Yano said.

He described the role of the US forces in the southern Philippines as “more of the technical and training.”

“They don’t participate in any combat actions but they assist us in terms of training our forces. They assist us through some technical equipment, but the actual operations are done by our own forces.”

The help of the US, which lists the Abu Sayyaf as a foreign terrorist organization and has paid bounties for the arrest or killing of its leaders, had been significant, Yano said.

“Most of the neutralization of the high-value targets, the high-profile targets that we have neutralized in the recent past were effected with assistance from our counterparts. They are a big help.”

He also confirmed that the Americans also helped the Filipino forces track the kidnappers of the ABS-CBN television team during the nine-day hostage crisis.

The Abu Sayyaf has been blamed for kidnappings of western tourists and Christian missionaries as well as deadly bombings of ferries, shopping malls and buses.

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Written by joelguinto

Thu+00:002008-06-26T07:43:40+00:00+00:0006b+00:00Thu, 26 Jun 2008 07:43:40 +0000 22, 2006 at 12:45 am06

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