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Search for Philippine ferry missing continues

At least 32 people confirmed dead in collision and 171 still missing in latest ferry disaster to hit archipelago.

Last Modified: 19 Aug 2013 02:46
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Ferries in the Philippines are plagued by poor safety standards [Reuters]

Divers are combing through a sunken ferry in search of dozens of people missing after a collision with a cargo ship near the Philippine port of Cebu sent passengers jumping into the ocean.

At least 39 were confirmed dead and hundreds rescued. More than 80 are still missing.

The captain of the ferry MV Thomas Aquinas ordered the ship abandoned when it began listing and then sank just minutes after the collision late on Friday with the MV Sulpicio Express Siete, coastguard deputy chief Rear Admial Luis Tuason said.

Al Jazeera's Rob McBride, reporting from Cebu, said that ferries are vital to the Philippines but that they are notoriously plagued by poor safety standards. 

In 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.

The MV Princess of the Stars capsized in 2008 during a typhoon, killing nearly 800 people.

Sleeping passengers

"Investigators will now be looking into whether this latest tragedy will join a catalogue of misadventures that could have been avoided," our correspondent said.  

Transportation and Communications Secretary, Joseph Abaya, announced official passenger figures following confusion over the actual number of people on the ferry.

He said the ferry carried 831 people - 715 passengers and 116 crew. That figure was fewer than the numbers given earlier by the coastguard and by ferry owner, 2Go. 

Tuason said some of the missing could still be trapped inside the vessel that sank in waters about 100 feet deep off Talisay city in Cebu province, 570km south of Manila.

Survivors said many of the passengers were asleep at the time of the accident.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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