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Philippine ferry death toll rises to 52

At least 68 still missing as bad weather stops rescue effort

<p>The ill-fated passenger vessel Saint Thomas Aquinas.</p>

The ill-fated passenger vessel Saint Thomas Aquinas.

  • ucanews.com reporter, Cebu City
  • Philippines
  • August 19, 2013
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At least 52 people have now been declared dead while an estimated 68 others were still missing on Monday, following Friday’s collision between a passenger ferry and a cargo ship off the central Philippine province of Cebu.

The Philippine Coast Guard says around 750 passengers have been rescued but search operations were suspended on Monday due to bad weather.

In a statement, 2GO, the company which owns the Saint Thomas Aquinas ferry said the ship was carrying 723 passengers and 118 crew when the accident occurred.

The vessel, which had an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew, sank after colliding with the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express 7 on Friday evening.

The sinking was the second such accident this year. On June 14, seven people died when the Lady Mount Carmel ferry sank off Masbate Island, also in central Philippines.

On Saturday, Pope Francis sent a message of condolence to Archbishop Jose Palma of Cebu, expressing the pontiff's sadness over the "tragic loss of life."

"He assures all affected of his closeness in prayer and commends the victims to the loving mercy of Almighty God," the message read.

"The Holy Father invokes divine strength and comfort upon the grieving families, the injured and those involved in the rescue efforts," it added.

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