Ferry sinks in central Philippines, 25 missing
Sixty-three crew and passengers were rescued from a sinking ferry off the central Philippines, the second accident in less than a week, coast guard officials said on Sunday, but at least 25 people were still missing, Reuters reported.
Three ships passing in the area picked up the survivors, Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo told reporters as coast guard planes and helicopters joined in the seach and rescue operations in waters off Verde island in the central Philippines.
"We hope to find more survivors," Balilo said. "We continue to search for about two dozen still missing."
The roll-on, roll-off ferry was carrying 88 people and nine cargo trucks when it set off from Calapan on the central island of Mindoro for a two-hour trip to Batangas port on the main Luzon island late on Saturday.
About 30 minutes later, it began listing after taking in water from its bow, Balilo said, adding the ferry sank minutes later about 1.6 nautical miles off Verde island.
"It happened very fast, I was sleeping on a bench but soon found myself clinging on a floater," passenger Eric Musngi told a radio interview after a rescue ship brought some of the survivors to Batangas port.
"There were dozens of people on the water crying for help and calling out the names of their family members and relatives. I don't know what happened to my mother and elder sister."
On Thursday, three people were killed and 24 remained missing when a wooden-hulled ferry bound for a central island of Lubang collided with fishing boat near the mouth of Manila Bay.
The weather was clear at the time of the accident and coast guard officials said they would investigate the cause.
Ferries are an important mode of transport in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands. But accidents are common because of overcrowding, poor maintenance and tropical storms.