28 dead in Cebu ship sinking-A A +A
Saturday, August 17, 2013
CEBU (Updated, 12:54 p.m.) -- The death toll from the sea mishap involving the ill-fated M/V St. Thomas Aquinas and a cargo vessel has increased to 28 with more than 200 others still missing, an official from the military's Central Command said.
"There are 868 passengers and crew of M/V St. Thomas Aquinas. The breakdown of which as of now...is 630 persons rescued and there are, however, 28 reported dead," said Central Command operations center chief Elmer Base.
"There are more than 200 plus missing of now," said Base, citing a report as of 11 a.m. Saturday.
Nevertheless, he said they are checking on reports that some other survivors, who were taken to hospitals, are not reflected in list of rescued.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III said Saturday he's hoping more survivors will be rescued. He added that he will head a meeting with the disaster council Saturday to address the needs of the survivors.
Divers from the Armed Force of the Philippines and the Coast Guard, and the disaster volunteers of the local government units in Cebu are helping in the ongoing search and rescue operation.
Rear Admiral Luis Tuason Jr., Philippine Coast Guard vice commandant for operations, said the Coast Guard has deployed teams to contain the oil spill at the site of a deadly ship collision on Friday evening.
Base, meanwhile, said that more assets are coming to Cebu to help in the search and rescue operations for the missing.
He said two Air Force helicopters joined assets of the Navy, Coast Guard and other civilian volunteers in the conduct of the search. He said the helicopters will check for survivors and casualties in the shoreline.
Also, he said Central Command chief Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda also requested for additional technical divers from the Navy. He said the divers left Palawan Friday aboard a C-130 plane.
"We expect them to arrive (Cebu) before lunchtime to assist the current 12 (currently) conducting dive, search and rescue in the area," he said.
Noel Escalona, operations officer of the Naval Forces Central, said the Navy retrieved 25 bodies. He said the bodies they recovered is on top of recoveries made by other agencies.
One of the fatalities was retrieved Friday night by Navy divers at M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, which is now lying at the seabed with a depth of 130 feet, said Escalona.
Escalona said the divers did not enter the ship. "They can't enter, they need underwater knives because there are a lot of ropes which are dangerous to them," he said.
According to initial report of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the collision between the Manila-bound M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas 1 and M/V Sulpicio Express 7 occurred around 9:03 p.m. off Lawis Ledge in Cebu.
It said St. Thomas Aquinas had 118 crew and 752 passengers while Sulpicio Express 7, which was heading for Davao, had 36 crewmen.
Some of the injured victims were admitted to various hospitals, 31 in Talisay District, 24 in Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, and 20 in Cebu City Medical Center.
Management of 2Go shipping Lines also provided relief assistance to survivors; some 300 survivors are staying at Terminal, Pier 4, Cebu City, and others are at Sugbutel and Stella Marie Hotel. Other survivors in Talisay City opted to stay at sitio Salvador Chapel, Baranagay Tangke.
Dead victims were brought to Pier 4 in Cebu City for proper identification and subsequently transported to Cosmopolitan Funeral Parlor. (VR/JK/Sunnex)