Ferry Sinks, Philippines Suspends Search For Survivors

The search for survivors has been suspended after a ferry sank in the Philippines on Friday evening. The ferry collided with a cargo ship just outside the central port of Cebu.

It sank shortly after. The cargo ship involved is owned by a company that was involved in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster, which happened almost 30 years ago.

The search for survivors has so far yielded 32 bodies, reports Reuters. But 170 more people are still missing, according to authorities.

Worsening weather and sea conditions forced the search to be suspended on Saturday. However, divers will resume the search early on Sunday, according to Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya.

Heavy rain brought on by a typhoon and low pressure reduced the visibility for searchers. Of the 831 passengers and crew on the ferry, 661 have been accounted for.

Of those, 629 were rescued, though many of them are sick from swallowing sea water and oil in the aftermath. Of the 32 dead, 17 had been identified.

Yahoo! News notes that it is possible passengers are still trapped inside the sunken ferry, which went down in waters about 100 feet deep. The Philippines has a notoriously poor maritime safety record. Several, sometimes hundreds, of people die each year in ferry accidents. Along with overcrowding, vessels are in bad condition.

The ferry in question was 40 years old and was on approach to Cebu in the evening. It was struck by a departing cargo vessel, the Sulpicio Express 7. Two huge holes were seen in the cargo ship’s bow. The ferry took just minutes to sink.

Along with boats, small planes and helicopters also searched the waters and coastal areas of Cebu island for any survivors. But divers have been unable to enter the ship, because they need special equipment and extra oxygen tanks. It is unknown how many people were still trapped inside, or if they are even alive.

The captains of both ships involved were still alive. However, they have yet to be questioned in the ferry sinking.

[Image via ShutterStock]