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28 survivors from Filipino ferry shipwreck found

Latest update : 2008-06-23

Twenty-eight passengers of a ferry sunk by Typhoon Fengshen were found alive after their lifeboat reached the coast south east of Manila, bringing the total to 32 survivors. Between 700 and 800 are still missing. (Report: O. Salazar-Winspear)

Twenty-eight passengers and crew of a ferry that sank during a typhoon in the central Philippines have been found alive, local radio station DZBB reported early Monday.
   
They were found in a coastal village southeast of Manila, it reported from the scene.
   
The group of survivors landed their lifeboat near the town of Mulanay in the Bondoc peninsula on Sunday, more than 24 hours after the Princess of the Stars  capsized off Sibuyan island, about 150 kilometres (94 miles) to the south, the station said.
   
The coast guard said this raised the number of survivors to 32 with more than 800 still missing and four confirmed dead. The rescue effort resumed at daybreak Monday, the Philippine Navy said.
   
"We have the same report," coast guard spokesman Armando Balilo said over DZMM radio here, confirming the discovery of the Mulanay survivors. He gave no other details.
   
The ferry carrying 800 or so passengers and crew ran into the eye of Typhoon Fengshen and sank around midday (0400 GMT) Saturday according to the survivors.
   
DZBB quoted the survivors as saying 30 people were originally in the lifeboat but two were lost at sea, including one man who was tossed overboard by a huge wave minutes before they landed.
   
The station said most of the group were male, including nine crew members of the 23,824-tonne vessel that sailed from the port of Manila on Saturday for the central port of Cebu.
   
"The search and rescue effort resumed at first light today," navy spokesman Eduardo Arevalo told DZBB.
   
A navy patrol craft reached the wreck site on Sunday afternoon but had to suspend the search as night fell in rough waters after navy frogmen inspected the half-submerged vessel without finding any signs of life.
   
Arevalo said a second rescue vessel was en route to the area bearing more rescue divers as well as cutting equipment.
   
"If we can't find anyone on the water we will also have the capability to go underwater," he said.
   
Search aircraft were also scheduled to join the search as the weather improved, he said.
   
Fengshen roared out into the South China Sea late Sunday after leaving more than 200 dead and large swathes of damage across the country.
   
Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Jesus Dureza told reporters President Gloria Arroyo ordered maritime regulatory authorities to revise sailing regulations for civilian maritime traffic during storms and typhoons.
   
The Princess of the Stars had been allowed to set sail on Saturday despite the threat posed by the typhoon because under the rules it was large enough to stay afloat under in the typhoon's periphery.
   
But Fengshen abruptly changed its northerly course on Saturday and raked west across the central islands, heading directly into the ferry's path.
   
Arroyo, who is on an official visit to the United States, ordered the coast guard to change its regulations so that "no vessel sails if it would pass (a) possible typhoon path," Dureza said.

Date created : 2008-06-23

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