7 bodies found separately at sea in Tawi-Tawi
DAVAO CITY — Authorities separately recovered seven bodies floating at sea off the Tawi-Tawi province. The bodies were believed to have come from a ferry that sank at sea on its way to Sabah on July 31.
Officials said the remains, already in a stage of decomposition, were seen floating on Monday, in the waters of Sitangkai Island off mainland Tawi-Tawi.
Lt. Euphraim Jayson Diciano, Philippine Coast Guard commander in Tawi-Tawi, said on Wednesday the recovered bodies included that of a 10-year-old girl Mahmuda Buhari and six other women, still unidentified. The women were among the 15 passengers of a ferry bound for Sabah that went missing when their vessel capsized after it was hit by big waves off Siamel Island of Sabah on July 30.
“We turned over the bodies to local officials and they buried these since all were already in a stage of decomposition,” Diciano said.
Ferry operators do not usually maintain a list of passengers but Diciano said a survivor told local officials in Sapa-Sapa town who the people were on board the vessel. All 16 passengers of the capsized ferry reportedly came from Sapa-Sapa town and he was the only one to survive.
“There is an ongoing search operation for the remaining missing people,” Diciano said, adding eight of those missing were minors, aged between six and seven.
On April 2000, 56 people died, 27 of them children, when a ferry bound for Tawi-Tawi sank off Jolo, Sulu. More than a hundred other passengers went missing and feared dead.
The country’s deadliest maritime disaster occurred on December 20, 1987 when a passenger ferry, MV Doña Paz, sank after colliding with the oil tanker while traveling to Manila from Leyte, leaving over 4,000 people dead./lb
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