The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
The Pontificate - Contribute to help UCA News
UCA News


Rough seas halt Philippine search for ferry disaster victims

At least 40 dead and 20 still missing, officials say

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Ronald Reyes, Tacloban City

Updated: July 02, 2015 08:20 PM GMT
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Featured Authors - Columnists | Make a Contribution
Rough seas halt Philippine search for ferry disaster victims

Rescuers search for missing passengers from the ill-fated ferry. (Photo by Frank Villablanca)

Share this article :
Rough seas on Friday forced Philippines rescuers to suspend the search for more than 20 people still missing a day after a ferry disaster claimed at least 40 lives.

The Kim Nirvana, believed to be carrying 189 passengers and crew, capsized off a central Philippine port on Thursday shortly after setting sail from Ormoc city for its regular run to the Camotes island group, about an hour's sailing away.

"At least 154 people are already accounted for," coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said, adding that 127 passengers were rescued.

"What’s important is for us to account for all the passengers," Balilo said.

Distraught relatives waited at the Ormoc city port on Friday for news of the missing, after a sleepless nighttime vigil, while others checked hospitals and morgues for loved ones.

At the port, 10-year-old Gilbert de la Cruz kept his eyes fixed on the partially submerged wooden hull where his mother, eight-year-old sister and one-year-old brother were believed trapped.

"I'm very sad because I don't know if they are still alive," said the boy, who survived the accident by clinging to empty water drums that kept him afloat until the coast guard rescued him.

"I am never riding a boat again," he said, as his aunt comforted him.

Authorities have said they are puzzled as to how the accident happened.

Survivors have recounted how the 33-ton vessel was backing out of the port when it suddenly overturned, giving them no chance to put on life jackets.

"Big waves" might have caused the ferry to capsize, "but we are still investigating" the incident, said Rey Gozon of the Office of Civil Defense in the Eastern Visayas region.

"We are going to check all angles in the investigation and we will consider everything, including weather," Balilo of the coast guard said.

Coast guard and navy rubber dinghies circled the hull Friday, but no survivors have been found since Thursday afternoon.

Divers stopped their search as the seawaters became turbulent, and the seabed grew murky due to bad weather from Tropical Storm Linfa, said Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina, the police commander overseeing the operation.

Linfa was set to brush past the northern Philippines later Friday.

President Benigno Aquino, meanwhile, has offered his condolences to the victims and their families.

"We mourn with the families of those who lost their loved ones in the incident and assure them a speedy and objective investigation," Aquino said in a statement on Friday.

Caritas Manila on Friday said it would use funds from its Alay Kapwa Lenten program to help the families of victims.

"They can count on our help. We will contact our Church partners in the diocese so we can aid victims," said Fr Anton Pascual, executive director of Caritas Manila.

The Alay Kapwa Lenten program raises funds to support and sustain social action initiatives and other developmental projects of the church. Additional reporting by AFP

Support UCA News...

UCA News provides a unique service, bringing you the voices of emerging churches and helping you see efforts made to evangelize and bring relief to people in all manner of need.

UCA News has more than 40 full time and part time reporters, editors and administrators bringing you this service from across 23 countries in south, southeast and east Asia. You, too, can be part of their efforts by contributing even a small amount to keep UCA News available to the world.
Click here to consider the options available to you.

Your contribution to UCA News will immensely help us continue to grow a strong media community by harnessing information technology to inform, engage, inspire and influence the Catholics of Asia and the world.

As a gesture of our gratitude to your commitment to UCA News, we are pleased to gift you a free PDF Book/e-Book titled Mission in Asia when you make a contribution.

UCA News Donate
UCA Newsletter
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution