Hundreds missing as passenger vessel sinks
Rescue efforts were ongoing last night after a passenger vessel with about 700 passengers sank after colliding head on with a cargo vessel in Lawis Ledge off the coast of Talisay City, Cebu around 8 p.m.
Commander Weniel Azcuna, chief of the Cebu station of the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), said the passenger vessel MV St. Thomas Aquinas of 2Go collided with Sulpicio Express 7, a cargo vessel of the Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp.
The 2Go vessel was carrying 692 passengers and crew while the cargo vessel had 18 crewmembers, the PCG said.
An initial batch of 13 passengers of the 2Go vessel were pulled out of the water by local fishermen.
A survivor, Aldrin Raman of Buenavista, Agusan del Norte, said their passenger ship left Nasipit-Butuan at noon and was expected to dock at 9 p.m. in Cebu city.
He said lights in the vessel suddenly went out, prompting passengers to panic and grab life vests. He said he waited for the ship to submerge before he started swimming away. He said he grabbed a styrofoam floater and was able to save two children before they were rescued by fisherfolk.
The PCG is leading rescue efforts with disaster units of Talisay, Naga and Cebu cities.
Lawis Ledge is a few kilometers from the Cebu City port, near the southern entrance of the Mactan Channel.
MV Thomas Aquinas left the Nasipit port in Agusan del Norte around 12 noon enroute to Manila via Cebu.
As of 11 p.m. scores of passengers were rescued.
MV Thomas Aquinas’ port of origin was Surigao City where it left for Nasipit at 11 p.m. last Thursday./Joy Cherry Quito and Gabriel C. Bonjoc
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