|The death toll of the collision between a passenger ship and a cargo vessel in central Philippine province of Cebu has risen to 28, with 215 others still missing, military and coast guard officials said Saturday.(Xinhua)
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Video >>> Death toll in C. Philippine ship collision climbs to 28
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MANILA, Aug. 17 (Xinhua) -- The Philippine government assured Saturday that thorough investigation into the two ships collision off central province of Cebu would immediately start to determine who is at fault.
As of 2:00 p.m. local time, the Philippine Coast Guard reported that the death toll had risen to 31 while 172 have remained missing from the ill-fated MV St. Thomas Aquianas passenger ship, which collided with cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7 Friday night near Talisay in Cebu province. About 629 people have been rescued.
Deputy Presidential Spokeswoman Abigail Valte said in an interview over a state-run radio station that for the moment the priority is the search and rescue operations (SARS) for the missing passengers, and the government is ready to extend assistance to the victims.
"We are prepared to extend any assistance that they need," she said.
According to a statement issued by 2Go Group on Saturday, there were 723 passengers and 118 crew or a total of 841 people and 104 equivalent 20-foot container units on board the ill-fated ship, which has an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew and 160 units 20-foot containers.
The ship came from Surigao and Nasipit Port and was bound for Cebu as a stopover port before proceeding to Manila. It was supposed to arrive at Cebu port at around 10:00 p.m. Friday.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said that all the 38 crew of the cargo vessel were safe and accounted for.
Different government agencies concerned and search and rescue assets are working together as a response to the accident, Valte said.