MV Mercraft 3 tragedy death toll now at 5
LUCENA CITY – The death toll from the sinking of fast craft MV Mercraft 3 has risen to five following the discovery of another victim as search and rescue operations continue, authorities said Friday.
Juanito Diaz, acting Quezon disaster risk reduction and management council chief, said the body of the latest victim identified as Rufo Combalicer was found by rescuers in the seas off Polillo Island around 9 p.m. on Thursday.
Aside from Combalicer, the other identified victim was Francisco Azuela, 77, from Polillio town. The rest of the victims that include two adult females have yet to be identified.
Diaz said the search and rescue operations have saved 253 passengers, including a British born but now Australian citizen Roland Kemp as of Thursday night.
At least 231 of the survivors were housed in the village hall in Barangay Dinahican in Infanta town that serves as the base of operation. Another 18 rescued ship passengers were staying in nearby Real town, and four others were in the coastal village of Pandan in the same town.
The number of survivors plus the five casualties has brought the total passengers to 258, which is more than the 251 listed passengers in the manifest. The sea vessel has a maximum capacity of 286 passengers, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
The PCG said huge waves slammed the ferry, causing it to tip over in waters off Dinahican village in Infanta town an hour after it left the port of nearby municipality of Real for Polillo Island at 10:30 a.m. Thursday. /kga
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