Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Death toll in Cebu ferry collision reaches 116

Divers over the weekend recovered another body from the sunken wreck of the MV St. Thomas Aquinas, bringing to 116 the death toll in the Aug. 16 collision between the passenger ship and the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete off Talisay City in Cebu.

This was disclosed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Tuesday by Commander Armand Balilo, spokesperson of the Philippine Coast Guard, who said “divers are on stand-by to retrieve more bodies” from the ill-fated ship.

“As of (Tuesday), 21 passengers and crew members of the ferry are still unaccounted for,” he noted.

Search and rescue teams, composed of Coast Guard, Navy and Philippine National Police personnel, as well as private volunteers, earlier rescued a total of 733 passengers and crew members of the St. Thomas Aquinas.

Balilo, also chief of the PCG’s public affairs office, clarified the command had not terminated its search and retrieval operations.

“The diving operations were suspended last Friday to give way to preparations for the fuel oil siphoning operations to be conducted by a team hired by 2Go Travel,” which operated the ferry, he said. The team includes an undisclosed number of “technical experts from Japan.”

He explained “our divers cannot operate while the oil siphoning is being conducted because it might put their lives in danger.” The oil siphoning operations “will take more than a week,” according to Balilo.

Tuesday 17 September 2013



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