Death toll from Cebu ferry disaster rises to 64
MANILA, Philippines - The confirmed death toll from a ferry disaster in Cebu rose to 64 on Tuesday, August 20, as more bodies were found, some of them inside the sunken ship itself.
Boats searching nearby islands for survivors found only the dead, while divers pulled out more bodies from the waters off Cebu, where the St Thomas Aquinas ferry collided with a cargo ship on Friday night (August 16) and quickly sank.
Many of the remaining 56 people still missing from the disaster are believed to have drowned with their bodies still trapped in the ship's interior, Cebu coastguard commander Weniel Azcuna said.
"We found more bodies in nearby islands. We found around nine inside the vessel," he told AFP.
Strong currents and bad weather as well as the difficulty of reaching the sunken ferry, lying at a depth of about 30 meters (98 feet) has slowed down recovery efforts, he said.
But the divers will be back under water Wednesday morning, August 21, even as government boats and aircraft search the seas in hope of finding anyone either alive or dead, he said, adding: "We're still optimistic. We're not losing hope."
Over 200 military, coastguard and police are also helping mop up a large oil spill that has leaked from the sunken ferry, polluting valuable mangroves, fishing grounds and popular beach resorts. - Rappler.com