BEIJING, Aug. 18 (Xinhuanet) -- Bad weather has forced diving teams in the Philippines to suspend their search for survivors of Friday's ferry disaster. The Philippines' transport and communications secretary has been giving the latest on the operation.
"Latest account - there are 629 survivors, 31 casualties. So far what has been accounted for is six hundred and sixty, six-six-zero. Missing is 171. There were foreigners on board. I heard (from) particularly Administrator Mejia that the reports coming from the area are that all the foreigners are OK. So there are no accounted casualties among the foreigners. There is, I heard, a New Zealander who is now in the hospital," said Joseph Abaya, Philippines Transport & Communications Sec.
The spokesman says the passenger ferry was about to enter the port of Cebu City, about 570 kilometers south of Manila, when it hit a cargo ship. The ferry sank within minutes, in waters around 33 meters deep.
It's thought some of the passengers still unaccounted for could still be trapped inside the vessel. The captains of both ships survived and are being questioned. The Philippine government says it’s ready to offer assistance to the victims, and is promising an immediate investigation into the incident.