CEBU CITY (Updated) -- At least 36 passengers of the motorized passenger banca that capsized off Ormoc City, Leyte were confirmed dead as of 4:30 p.m. Thursday, July 2, said the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
PCG spokesman Cdr. Armand Balilo said the 36 bodies were recovered Thursday afternoon while 19 others remained missing. A total of 118 passengers were rescued and brought to several hospitals in Ormoc.
M/B Kim Nirvana was bound for Pilar, Camotes when it capsized around 12:20 p.m., just minutes after it left Ormoc port. It was carrying 173 passengers, said Balilo.
The banca has a capacity of 178 people.
"Malakas daw po yung alon at tsaka hangin (Big waves and strong winds caused it to capsize)," Lieutenant Christopher Gamet, operations officer of Coast Guard District Eastern Visayas, told Sun.Star Cebu.
Posted by Serbisyo Publiko sa Radyo on Thursday, July 2, 2015
Rescue operations are ongoing as of this posting, as some of those missing are believed to have been trapped.
James Reyes, of the Philippine Navy, said the Naval Forces Center Visayas deployed a vessel together with divers to the area where the boat sank.
The banca measures 17 meters and has a gross tonnage of 33.58.
The incident happened Thursday, a day after M/V Trans Asia 9, which was bound for Cebu City, was stranded for almost seven hours after it reportedly encountered big waves.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) earlier warned of big waves, moderate to heavy rains, and strong winds spawned by the Intertropical Convergence Zone across Visayas.
Pagasa also announced that the low pressure area spotted kilometers east of Luzon has developed into a tropical depression. No storm warning has been raised anywhere in the country. (John Carlo Cahinhinan/Davinci S. Maru of Sun.Star Cebu/Jean Mondoñedo-Ynot/Sunnex)