Search for 172 passengers, crew suspended



02:41 PM August 17th, 2013

By: Carmel Matus, Julliane De Jesus, August 17th, 2013 02:41 PM

CEBU, Philippines—Rescue operations for at least 200 passengers and crew who remained missing after the ferry they were on collided with a cargo vessel off Cebu has been suspended due to rough waters, officials said Saturday.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya in a press conference said that underwater search has been temporarily called off due to bad weather and will resume on Sunday.

MV St. Thomas Aquinas was carrying 831 people—715 passengers and 116 crewmembers—when it went down after colliding with MV Sulpicio Express Siete late on Friday night in a dangerous choke point off Cebu’s Talisay City.

Coast guard and military vessels, as well as local fishermen in their own small boats hauled 629 people out of the water alive. The Philippine Coast Guard said 172 people were still unaccounted for and 31 bodies had been retrieved.

The MV Thomas Aquinas sank in waters about 200 meters deep, making it difficult for ordinary divers to conduct underwater  search. With a report from Frances Mangosing,

Related stories:

Death toll from ship collision off Cebu up to 26–Coast Guard
24 dead as 2 ships collide near Cebu port

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