Military reports 39 fatalities in Cebu ship disaster

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Philippine Navy divers retrieve a body from the waters off the coast of Talisay city, Cebu province, Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013, a day after a passenger ferry MV Thomas of Aquinas collided with a cargo ship Sulpicio Express Siete. AP

MANILA, Philippines – Deaths from the Philippines’ latest ship disaster stood at 39 Sunday afternoon, the military said.

Lieutenant Commander Noel Escalona, operations officer of the Naval Forces West, told INQUIRER.net on Sunday that four more bodies were retrieved during the underwater search of the divers Sunday afternoon.

But the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council said its count remained at 37.

Figures of fatalities stood at 34 before Sunday noon. Six bodies were retrieved during the whole day of search operations.

Rescued passengers were at 750 and missing persons were at 81 as of 2:45p.m.

Meanwhile, Commander Armand Balilo, spokesman of the Philippine Coast Guard, earlier said  that more bodies could be inside the sunken MV St Thomas Aquinas, which was located about 150 feet below in Lawis Ledge off Talisay City.

Technical divers went underwater for their second reconnaissance Sunday afternoon to put markers for their full retrieval operations on Monday.

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