AFP sends air, sea craft to search missing passengers off Masbate

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MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine military deployed several air and sea craft to assist the Philippine Coast Guard in the ongoing search and rescue operations after a passenger ship sank off Burias Island in Masbate before dawn Friday.

The Naval Forces Southern Luzon based in Legaspi City, Albay, deployed a patrol with one team of Navy SEALS, a patrol gunboat, and an islander aircraft from Cebu, Lieutenant Colonel Ramon Zagala, Armed Forces of the Philippines Public Affairs Office chief said.

The 505th Search and Rescue Group of the Philippine Air Force was also alerted in the latest disaster to hit the nation’s notoriously dangerous sea transport industry.

Fishermen and rescue workers hauled 40 people out of the ocean and retrieved two bodies. At least 15 passengers remained missing.

The rescued passengers were brought to Aroroy, Masbate Health Hospital.

“AFP units deployed to the site of the incident will work day-in and day–out in the search and rescue operations led by the Philippine Coast Guard,” Zagala said.

“The lines of communication and close coordination between the agencies involved in the concerted efforts are already in place to make sure that the remaining passengers of the sunken ship are rescued as soon as possible,” he said.

The MV Lady of Carmel bound for Aroroy in Albay left the Pioduran port in Albay at around 2 a.m. and sank three hours later off Burias island.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippines due to poor safety standards and overloading.

The world’s deadliest peacetime maritime disaster occurred near Manila in 1987 when a ferry laden with Christmas holidaymakers collided with a small oil tanker, killing more than 4,300 people.

In 2008, a huge ferry capsized during a typhoon off the central island of Sibuyan, leaving almost 800 dead. With Agence France-Presse

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