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63 now dead in Cebu ferry mishap
The number of missing is pegged at 57

AFTERMATH. Life rafts from the sunken ferry St. Thomas Aquinas float in front of cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7 on August 17, 2013, whose bow was destroyed after a colliding with the ferry the night before off Talisay, Cebu. Photo by AFP/Ted Aljibe

MANILA, Philippines – The number of dead in the Cebu ferry mishap has risen to 63, while the number of missing has been  pegged at 57.

The collision happened on Friday, August 16, after the St Thomas Aquinas ferry collided with the cargo vessel MV Sulpicio Express Siete.

The captains of both vessels are blaming each other for the mishap. The ferry was carrying about 870 passengers and sank quickly after colliding with the freighter at about 9 pm near the port of Cebu.

In his account, Capt Reynan Bermejo of St Thomas Aquinas said the collision off the coast of Talisay City in Cebu was caused by the cargo vessel which was on the same inbound lane they were in as they were approaching the port. He said he could only steer the ferry towards the right side because of shallow waters on the left.

Capt Rolito Gilo said calls to Aquinas went unheeded. It eventually responded with a red light, maintained its course then suddenly turned right, causing the collision. The Special Maritime Board of Inquiry will be conducting a formal investigation into the mishap. –