More bodies are believed to be trapped inside a ferry that sank after colliding with a cargo ship late Friday night near a port in Talisay City, Cebu, a military official said on Saturday.
The M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, lies in 130 feet of water off Talisay, and Navy divers have recovered at least one body from the wreckage, Commander Noel Escalona, operations officer of the Naval Forces Central, told reporters.
The Thomas Aquinas, with more than 600 people aboard, came from Butuan City and was on its way to Cebu when it collided with the M/V Sulpicio Express 7.
Escalona said 575 survivors have been rescued and 28 bodies have been recovered as of Saturday morning.
“Our troops from the Naval Special Operations Unit (Navsou) made a dive this morning and said that the location of the ship is 130 feet,” Escalona said.
Commander Elmer Base, chief of operations center of the military’s central command said two Air Force helicopters have joined the search and an Air Force plane flew a team of technical divers from Palawan to Cebu.
“We have two UH-1H (Huey) coming to conduct aerial recon, area sweep by air and we still also conducting maritime sweep. Air assets are to check if there are to check if there are survivors or casualties swept in nearby shorelines,” Base said.
The St. Thomas Aquinas is owned by the Cebu-based shipping firm, 2GO Shipping Lines, while the cargo ship is owned Sulpicio Lines.