MANILA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Four survivors from the
sunken Filipino ferry said on Sunday that the captain of the ship ordered the
abandoning of the ship at noon Saturday in the sea off the island of Sibuyan in
central Philippines, but many passengers did not even wear life vests when the
ship capsized, according to local television GMA News.
Relatives of passengers of a capsized ferry cry as they await the latest news on
their love ones outside the office of Sulpicio Lines in the
port area of Manila June 22, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters
The four survivors of the ill-fated MV Princess of
Stars, identified as Jesus Gica, Oliver Amorin, Jessie Buot, and Renato Lanorio,
told GMA news that the ship did not malfunction as was previously reported by
local media, but only slowed down its speed as it encountered big waves off the
coast of Romblon province in central Philippines.
The four somehow swam to the shore of Sibuyan island
and were found by villagers, according to government officials.
The ferry, carrying more than 800 people, reached Sibuyan, an island of the Romblon province, at about 0700 a.m. local time (2300 GMT Friday) Saturday after setting off from Manila Friday night. Fifteen minutes before noon, the captain told them to abandon ship, the survivors said.
A relative of a ferry passenger cries as she awaits the latest news inside the office of Sulpicio Lines in the port area of Cebu city, central Philippines June 22, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Lanorio said he was not able to find his two
companions after jumping into the water. Gica said there were many people who
jumped, but the waves were so big and the rains so strong that few of them could
have possibly survived.
They also said the crew were so busy saving
themselves that they did not care to help the passengers to wear safety vests,
and that some of the passengers passed out while children and the elderly failed
to wear life vests because they could no longer move when the ship was turning
"Old people were left underneath," one of them said.
Philippine Navy rubber boat is pictured leaving a house after rescuing stranded residents at a farming village near Zamboanga City, southern Philippines June 21, 2008.(Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
Gica also said some of the passengers rode "life
crafts," but he thought they drowned at last because of the big waves.
Meanwhile, about two dozen relatives of the
passengers of the ill-fated "MV Princess of Stars" trooped to the Manila office
of Sulpicio Lines, the owner of the ferry ship, to inquire about the whereabouts
of their loved ones.
Manila port captain Nestor Ponteres said the ferry's
owner, Sulpicio Lines, had lost radio contact with the ship and the fate of its
passengers was unknown.
So far only four people were found alive and the
bodies of three people were also recovered by villagers near the shore facing
the sea where the 23,824-ton ship sank.
A spokesman of the Coast Guard also told local media that rescuers onboard a rescue ship which reached the sunken boat have seen no signs of life.
Fireman and members of a rescue group help an elderly woman out of the Jaro river near Iloilo city, central Philippines June 21, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)
A local official of the Romblon province told local
media earlier that government officials saw the sunken ship "upside down with a
hole in the middle."
The Coast Guard said they sent rescue vessels to the
site of the incident Saturday night but were hampered by rough waves. They
resent another rescue ship Sunday morning, only to find no signs of life.
The Coast Guard also admitted the death toll of the
sinking accident could be very high because of high waves and bad weather, but
said they still hope to find survivors.
Death toll from "Fengshen" rises to 70
MANILA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from typhoon
"Fengshen" which rampaged through the Philippines this weekend has risen to at
least 70, as the central province of Iloilo said at least 49 drowned in flood
caused by a dam overflow there.
The fate of more than 800 passengers and crews on board a
ferry ship which sank off the central province of Romblon early Sunday is still
unknown as rescue ships are yet to arrive at the site of the sinking, according
to local officials. Full story
Philippine Coast Guard runs against
time to search for survivors
MANILA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine Coast Guard is
running against time by sending a rescue ship to the sea area to see whether
there is any survivors from a ferry ship which sank Sunday morning amid storms
brought about by typhoon "Fengshen".
BRP Batangas, the rescue ship of the coast guard, is
expected to reach the capsized MV Princess of the Stars off Sibuyan Island,
Romblon, early Sunday afternoon to rescue 702 passengers and 121 crew, said
coast guard officials. Full story
Ferry with 700 people sinks in storm
in Philippines, 20 die
MANILA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- A ferry carrying over 700
passengers capsized near Romblon province in central Philippines in typhoon
"Fengshen" Saturday night, killing at least 20 people, local media reported
A local town mayor told news network ABS-CBN that some
dozens of bodies have been recovered. But the report has not yet been confirmed.
Typhoon "Fengshen" heads northward
after slashing Metro Manila
MANILA, June 22 (Xinhua) -- Typhoon "Fengshen" passed the
east of Metro Manila early Sunday and headed toward central Luzon in the
vicinity of Clark in Pampanga province, 70 kilometers north of Manila, said the
state weather forecasters Sunday.
"Fengshen" is expected to reach Pangasinan province 200
kilometers north of Manila in the afternoon, said the Philippine Atmospheric
Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). Full story