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MANILA, Philippines (7th UPDATE) – At least 38 people were killed when a passenger boat capsized off the coast of Ormoc, Leyte, on Thursday, July 2, the Philippine National Red Cross said.
The figure is slightly higher than the count of the Philippine Coast Guard, which announced 36 casualties as of 5 pm Thursday.
Philippine National Red Cross chief Richard Gordon told Agence France-Presse that based on the latest figures from rescuers, there were 38 dead, 33 missing, and 118 rescued from the capsized boat which was bound for Pilar town in the Camotes islands in Cebu.
Philippine Coast Guard Spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said that as of 5 pm, 127 people had been rescued, while 26 were still missing.
Balilo said the boat just 200 meters away from its point of departure, the port of Ormoc City, when it capsized.
“The boat capsized when it undocked 200 meters away from the port,” Balilo said.
The Cebu-bound Kim Narvana sank at around 12:50 p.m. when it made a wrong maneuver shortly after undocking, he said.
The PCG said that according to the boat’s captain, who was in its custody along with several crew members, he did not expect big waves to hit the boat when he tried to maneuver it.
Search and rescue
PCG sent teams, as well as the BRP Nueva Vizcaya to the site for search and rescue operations.
Lieutenant James Reyes, spokesperson of the Naval Forces Central (Navforcen), said the Philippine Navy deployed a vessel with 5 divers to help in the ongoing operations.
“We’re scouring the ship for more survivors who may be trapped inside the hull,” Ciriaco Tolibao from the city’s disaster risk reduction and management office told AFP.
Tolibao added, “We hope to finish the rescue before dark and before it starts to rain.”
No gale warning
Balilo said in an interview on ANC that there was no gale warning at the time of the voyage that could have kept the boat ifrom sailing. He added, however, that the PCG will check “all angles” in its investigation of the mishap, including weather conditions.
He also said that the PCG had contacted the boat owner.
“We will conduct the investigation as soon as we finish the search and rescue operations,” Balilo said.
Distraught kin gathered in Ormoc city where authorities brought rescued passengers and recovered corposes. (READ: Boat passenger: ‘I should’ve listened to my wife’) – With reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com