242 missing after Philippine passenger ferry sinks
A huge passenger ferry carrying nearly 1,000 people on board capsized in southern Philippines on Sunday. Two were confirmed dead while 242 remain missing, the coast guard authority said, Xinhua reported.
Gilbert Teodoro, chairman of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, told local media that the Superferry 9 had sunk hours after the captain ordered to abandon the ship and requested emergency rescue.
Coast guard chief Admiral Wlfredo Tamayo told local media that 723 people have been saved but the coast guard and navy rescue team are continuing the search to account for the more than 200 missing.
Two bodies of the drowned passengers were found but authorities feared more were buried inside the capsized ferry.
Teodoro, also defense chief, said navy ships and helicopters have reached the accident site off the Zamboanga peninsular coast.
Superferry 9 sailed out of the southern city General Santos Saturday night and is expected reach central city of Iloilo late Sunday. It requested rescue at around 3:30 a.m. local time (0730 GMT).
The cause of the accident is under investigation.
Marine-time tragedies are a commonplace in the Philippine archipelago. A ferry carrying 862 on board sank in a typhoon in central Philippines last summer. More than 800 people were killed or remain missing.