PCG: 7 missing, 2 dead in ferry mishap off Masbate

Manila, Philippines (UPDATED) - Three more passengers of the ferry that sunk off Burias Island, Masbate on Friday are believed to be missing, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said Saturday, raising the number of missing passengers to 7. 

At the same time, 6 more people were rescued as navy divers were called in to hunt for survivors.

In an interview with Bombo Radyo Legazpi, PCG Deputy District Commander Nelson Torre said authorities revised the number following interviews with passengers of the ship who survived the accident. 

A day after the ship mishap that killed two women, a total of 61 passengers have been rescued as search and rescue operations for the missing passengers continue. Only 3 of the 61 survivors remain in hospital.

The navy is planning to send divers to check the ship's wreckage to find out whether there are passengers trapped inside, Philippine Navy Bicol deputy spokesperson Ensign John Duruin told reporters. 

PCG and local fishernmen were also assisting with rescue efforts, Duruin added.  

Official records show M/V Our Lady of Mt Carmel carried 35 passengers, 22 crew members, two buses, and a 6-wheeler truck when it sank at around 5:30 pm on Friday.

But the latest PCG report shows a total of 70 passengers were on board the boat, including 39 passengers and 22 crew members. 

Of the 7 missing, only 3 were listed on M/V Our Lady of Mt Carmel's manifest. 

PCG told reporters the names of those missing were:

The cause of the sinking is under investigation, Duruin said.

Media reports suggested the ferry tipped over when one of the vehicles in its hold broke loose from its restraint and caused an imbalance.

Under the law, vessels are required to list down all the passengers in their manifest. 

Ship captain Lauro Mateo earlier said it was unlikely the ship was overloaded. 

The management of the ship has also denied that mechanical failure caused the accident. - with a report from Agence France-Presse