Death toll in Cebu ferry sinking hits 62; 58 missing

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NAVY technical divers recovered two more bodies from the sunken ferry M/V St. Tomas Aquinas 1, bringing the total number of casualties to 62 with 58 still missing.

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Lt. Cmdr. Noel Escalona, operations officer, Naval Forces Central, disclosed on Tuesday that bodies believed to be passengers of the ill-fated ship were also recovered drifting in Cordova and other parts of Cebu and as well as the waters of Bohol province.

Escalona said the total figures on the number of casualties came from the Disaster Response Committee. He said he had no idea if the recovered floating bodies were included.

Retrieval operations, he added, were suspended at 10 a.m. because of the bad sea condition, making it hard and dangerous for the Navy divers to continue their underwater search. He said that if the sea would calm down before 3 p.m. the divers would again give it another try but if not, operations would resume the following day.

“Our instruction is weather permitting we can schedule another dive,” Escalona said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health started processing the identification of the dead bodies to ensure that the grieving families would get the right remains of their loved ones.

The MV Aquinas 1 of 2GO Shipping collided last Friday with cargo ship M/V Sulicio Express 7 of Philippine Span Asia Carrier Corp, but the latter did not sink. The passenger ship was navigating the narrow strait of the port of Cebu when the fatal collision happened.

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