High seas thwart ferry rescue efforts

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Officials in the Philippines refused to give up hope of rescuing some of the 800 people missing after a ferry capsized during Typhoon Fengshen, even as high seas stalled efforts to get inside the vessel today.









Divers heard no response when they hammered on the tip of the 23,824-ton Princess of Stars which was jutting from the water off Sibuyan island in the central Philippines.



"We're not ruling out that somebody there is still alive," coastguard chief Wilfredo Tamayo said. "You can never tell."



But strong waves that have largely kept a small flotilla of rescue ships at bay continued to pound the area today, leaving officials to plan the best way to get inside - either with divers from below or by a hole that would be drilled in the hull, Mr Tamayo said.



A US Navy ship carrying search-and-rescue helicopters was expected to arrive from Okinawa later today, and a P-3 maritime surveillance plane was also being dispatched.



However, hope dwindled by the hour that large groups of survivors might be found in areas where communications were cut off by the weekend storm which left at least 163 people dead in flooded communities.



Only 38 wave-battered survivors from the ferry have been found so far, including 28 who drifted at sea for more than 24 hours in life jackets before they were found yesterday about 80 miles to the north in Mulanay township, in eastern Quezon province.



But bodies were washing up on shore to the west and north-west, too.



Coastguards were checking a survivor's report that at least one group of people - some dead, some alive - had been spotted bobbing in the sea.



Eleandro Madrona, a local congressman who flew over the ferry today, reported seeing only a tugboat nearby because of the conditions.



"I was thinking, where could these 700 people be?" he said. "There's no operation there at this time, but the search and rescue is ongoing in nearby islands."



Officials initially reported that 747 passengers and crew were on board the ferry, but said today that it was carrying about 100 more.



While some relatives tearfully waited for news, others were angry that the ship was allowed to leave Manila late on Friday for a 20-hour trip to Cebu with a typhoon approaching.



Fresh debate began on safe-sailing rules in a country prone to storms - Fengshen was the seventh typhoon this year - and dependent on ferries to get around the sprawling archipelago.



The ferry's owner, Sulpicio Lines, said the ship sailed with coastguard approval. The company said it will give $4,500 (£2,300) in compensation to relatives of each person who died, along with financial assistance to the survivors.



The ship ran aground at around noon on Saturday, and then capsized.



Survivor Reynato Lanoria, a janitor on the ship, estimated that about 100 people could have escaped the vessel, but thought the others were trapped inside.



The Philippines was the scene of the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster when the ferry Dona Paz sank in 1987, killing more than 4,341 people.



Typhoon Fengshen lashed the central Philippines early on Saturday, triggering landslides and floods, knocking out power and leaving hundreds listed as missing.



Three entire provinces - Albay, Antique and Iloilo - were declared to be in a state of disaster, along with three towns in two other provinces, officials said.



Packing sustained winds of 74mph and gusts of up to 93mph, the typhoon shifted course yesterday to the north-west and battered Manila at dawn, dumping heavy rain on the capital.



Anthony Golez, deputy chief of the Office of Civil Defence, said the storm took an erratic path and never slowed down when it hit land with huge deluges of rain. It continued to dump rain on Luzon island as it headed in the general direction of China and Taiwan today.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Full Stack Software Developer - Javascript

£18000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Strategic Partnerships Coordinator

£16000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Their research appears at the f...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment C...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This exciting startup disruptin...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen