Search and retrieval operations for the victims trapped inside the sunken M/V Thomas Aquinas will start August 19, as the death toll from the August 16 collision with M/V Sulpicio Express 7 in Cebu rose to 38. The number of people officially listed as missing was sharply reduced on Sunday to 82 from 170, but this was due to tallying issues rather than any fresh rescues. Naval Forces Central operations officer Lt Cmdr Noel Escalona said some of the divers have seen bodies trapped inside the sunken ferry. The divers had difficulty retrieving the victims. A leaking oil from the vessel added a new front to the disaster response, spreading for more than 5 km and into coastal villages, fishing grounds and mangroves.
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