Ferry sinking death toll at 108; 29 missing
MANILA, Philippines—Eleven more bodies were brought up by divers from the sunken ferry St. Thomas Aquinas in the last three days, bringing to 108 the total so far of dead in the Aug. 16 collision between the passenger ship and the cargo vessel Sulpicio Express Siete off Talisay City in Cebu, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Commander Armand Balilo, also chief of the PCG public affairs office, said Monday the bodies were taken to the Talisay City port.
He took the opportunity to belie reports the search and rescue operations by PCG, Philippine Navy and Philippine National Police divers were being discontinued.
Balilo said that Rear Adm. Rodolfo Isorena, the PCG chief, “has directed the teams of divers to check all sections of the St. Thomas Aquinas.”
“He [Isorena] assured the families of the missing passengers and crew members of the ill-fated ferry that the command was doing its best to account for them,” Balilo told the Inquirer.
The divers were earlier reported to have searched up to 60 percent of the ferry and were set to look in the tourist cabins.
As of late Monday, the number of missing ferry passengers and crew stood at 29. The Coast Guard placed the number of rescued passengers and crew at 629 and 104, respectively.
According to Balilo, the PCG station in Cebu had made revisions to the number of casualties “based on body parts recovered, as well as validations by 2GO Travel (operator of the St. Thomas Aquinas), the Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, and representatives of the Department of Health.”
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