MANILA, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- The death toll of the collision between a passenger ship and a cargo vessel off Talisay in central Philippine province of Cebu climbed to 38 as more bodies were retrieved on Sunday, the military said.
"The death toll is now 38," said Winiel Azcuna, chief of the Philippine Coast Guard Station in Cebu.
Rescue operation suspended Saturday due to strong winds and high waves, but resumed Sunday morning. However, the oil spill has hampered rescue because it affects visibility, skin of the divers, Azcuna said.
Roy Deveraturda, commander of the military's Central Command, said Sunday that full-scale underwater search for the missing trapped in the sunken passenger ship MV St. Thomas Aquinas is to start on Monday.
Technical divers conducted a survey of the ship on Sunday in an attempt to establish a "lifeline" for the underwater operation, he added.
"Hopefully, they (divers) can place markers, pinpoint entry and exit points. Then the full retrieval will happen probably tomorrow," he said.
Deveraturda said a total of 870 passengers and crew were on board the ill-fated passenger ship when it collided with MV Sulpicio Express 7 and subsequently sank near Lauis Ledge in Talisay City. Of the number, 751 were listed as survivors and 82 others are still missing.
The passenger vessel collided with the cargo vessel when it was about to enter the sea port in Talisay City shortly after 9 p.m. Friday.