The Latest on Philippines: Deaths revised to 35; 20 missing
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The latest on the ferry sinking in the Philippines (all times local):
The coast guard is revising the death toll to 35, with 20 missing and at least 134 rescued as the search operation continues through the night.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo attributed the higher death count to a mistake at the Manila headquarters.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo says a coast guard ship from nearby Cebu province is heading to Ormoc with a fresh crew to help in the search and rescue operation all through the night.
He says a sea current in the area is not strong and expects any bodies or survivors could be found in the vicinity of Ormoc Bay.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo says the captain and some of the crew of the overturned ferry boat have been rescued and are in custody pending an investigation.
He says there were a total of 189 passengers and crew; 127 have been rescued; 36 are dead and 26 more are missing.
Balilo described the boat as a large, 36-ton outrigger that plies the Ormoc-Camotes route regularly.
Balilo says coast guard district head Capt. Pedto Tinampay is requesting a vessel to be able to lift the capsized boat.
According to the Ormoc rescue group team leader Ciriaco Tolibao, six divers are working at the moment along with several army frogmen and coast guard divers, scouring the hull of the overturned boat.
“We are trying hopefully to find survivors or at least recover the bodies,” he says.
It is a low tide now and the bottom part of the boat’s hull is visible above the water.
Low visibility, clouds, a choppy sea and strong winds are hampering the rescue operation at the site where the ferry capsized.
Richard Gordon, chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, says the air force could not operate in those conditions. He says a team of divers was supposed to be deployed but additional divers could not fly in because of the bad weather.
Among the 173 passengers were at least three Americans and a Canadian who were rescued Thursday.
Lawrence Drake, 48 years old, of Rochester, New York, said he was able to revive a woman who wasn’t breathing while they were in the water via mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
He says he is a retired firefighter and emergency medical technician. He says he also saved an 8-year-old boy and the woman’s pregnant daughter.
He says he saw at least 7 bodies floating in the water, including two children.
Drake is married to a Filipino. His wife was traveling with him from Ormoc to Camotes along with her mother. They too survived by swimming out of the boat after it overturned.
Survivors tell The Associated Press by cellphone that the bow of the ferry suddenly rose from the waters before the vessel flipped over on one side and began to sink near the port of Ormoc.
The ferry boat is made of wood.
A ferry with 173 passengers has capsized 100 meters (yards) from a pier in the central Philippines, and 36 people are confirmed dead.
Rescuers are in the waters off Ormoc city on Leyte Island looking for 19 people still missing.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo in the capital, Manila, says 118 have been rescued so far.
Balilo says the ferry, MB Kim Nirvana, had just left Ormoc for Camotes Islands, about 44 kilometers (27 miles) to the south, when it was hit by big waves.