Ormoc sea tragedy death toll climbs to 61

Ormoc sea tragedy death toll climbs to 61
Authorities have yet to identify two of the casualties: a woman and a 10-year-old boy

ORMOC CITY, Philippines – The number of dead from a boat disaster in Ormoc, Leyte, has risen to 61, according to the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and the local government.

This figure is up from 41 confirmed by officials last Friday, July 3.

As of late Saturday evening, July 4, authorities said they had yet to identify two of the casualties: a woman and a 10-year-old boy. (READ: LIST: Casualties in the Ormoc sea tragedy)

The boat, called MBCA Nirvana-B, capsized with 173 passengers and 16 crew members on board on Thursday, July 2, shortly after it left the Ormoc port en route to Camotes Island, Cebu.

At least 45 of the confirmed deaths are Cebuanos, according to the Cebu  Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO).

Search and rescue operations by divers were stopped on Friday morning as waters became rough due to Tropical Storm Egay (international name Linfa). 

One of the bodies brought ashore that day was that of a one-year-old child.

President Benigno Aquino III has ordered a “speedy and thorough” probe into the sea tragedy.

Some survivors blame the boat crew and Philippine authorities for letting the boat sail despite alleged “overloading” and rough seas.

The PCG, however, said no gale warning was issued at the time the boat set sail. 

PCG Spokesman Commander Arman Balilo said on Friday that the agency will conduct a comprehensive investigation. 

“We are determined to pursue the angle of human error,” he told media.

The boat’s captain and several crew members remain in the PCG’s custody. – Jazmin Bonifacio/Rappler.com

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