Death toll from capsized Philippine ferry rises to 50

Death toll from capsized Philippine ferry rises to 50

Distraught relatives waited at the Ormoc city port on Friday for news of the missing, while others checked hospitals and morgues for their loved ones.



By (Agencies)

Published: Fri 3 Jul 2015, 10:08 AM

Last updated: Wed 12 Feb 2020, 1:11 PM

Ormoc City — Rescuers on Friday retrieved five more bodies from a ferry that capsized just moments after departing from a central Philippine port, raising the death toll to 50. 

The bodies were recovered hours after coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said all 187 passengers and crew members on the M/B Kim Nirvana had been accounted for. The vessel flipped over in choppy waters on Thursday off Ormoc City.
Balilo said the new bodies were found after a floating crane pulled the 36-ton wooden vessel close to shore. The additional fatalities raised questions about the number of people believed on board, and Balilo said they will have to recheck the number of survivors and investigate if the crew allowed people not on the manifest to board the ferry.
The outrigger was leaving Ormoc port en route to one of the Camotes Islands, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) to the south, when it was lashed by strong waves and capsized, he said.
The captain and some of the crew are in custody pending an investigation, Balilo said.
“Among the things we will look into is if there was a faulty maneuver, the stability of the vessel, and of course the weather,” he added.
Regional coast guard commander Capt. Pedro Tinampay told DZBB radio in Manila that the movement of cargo inside the ferry may have contributed to the accident. The ferry was carrying heavy construction materials and bags of rice.
Distraught relatives waited at the Ormoc city port on Friday for news of the missing, after a sleepless nighttime vigil, while others checked hospitals and morgues for their loved ones.
At the port, 10-year-old Gilbert de la Cruz kept his eyes fixed on the partially submerged wooden hull where his mother, eight-year-old sister and one-year-old brother were believed trapped.
“I’m very sad because I don’t know if they are still alive,” said the boy, who survived the accident by clinging to empty water drums that kept him afloat until the coast guard rescued him.
“I am never riding a boat again,” he told AFP, as he was comforted by his aunt whose eyes were swollen from crying.
The authorities have said they are puzzled as to how the accident happened in relatively calm waters, but discounted speculation that the ferry was overloaded.
Survivors have recounted how the 33-tonne vessel was backing out of the port when it suddenly overturned, giving them no chance to put on life jackets.
Coast guard and navy rubber dinghies circled the hull Friday, but no survivors have been found since Thursday afternoon. Local officials have said that 125 people have been rescued, leaving 26 unaccounted for.
Poorly maintained, loosely regulated ferries are the backbone of maritime travel in the sprawling archipelago of 100 million people.
The boats have had frequent accidents in recent years, claiming hundreds of lives, including the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster in 1987 when the Dona Paz ferry collided with an oil tanker, leaving more than 4,300 dead.
Many of the ferry disasters occur during the typhoon season between June and October, when strong winds also unleash deadly floods and landslides.
Ormoc, a regional economic and transportation hub of about 200,000 people, is located in a disaster-prone eastern region that is regularly hit by some of the approximately 20 tropical storms and typhoons that blow in from the Pacific each year. 


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