Sunday, September 06, 2009

4 dead, 84 others missing as SuperFerry sinks off Zambo
09/06/2009 | 10:35 AM

(Updated 11:45 a.m.) Four people died while 84 others were reported missing when a passenger ship sank Sunday morning after tilting for several hours in Siocon Bay near the Zamboanga Peninsula, company and government officials said.

In an interview on dzBB, Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said three of the fatalities from the sinking of SuperFerry 9 were taken aboard MV Myriad, a rescue vessel sent by the ship's owner Aboitiz Transport System (ATS).

One more body was recovered by a Navy rescue boat, one of the vessels that immediately responded to distress calls from the ship when it started tilting at 2 a.m. Sunday in the calm waters of Siocon Bay, he said. Arevalo added that SuperFerry 9 disappeared completely into the sea at 8:30 a.m.

According to Philippine Coast Guard commandant Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, initial investigation showed that the ship left General Santos City at 8:45 a.m. Saturday and was heading for Iloilo when it began having problems with its generator. [See earlier story: Ship tilts off Zamboanga Peninsula]

In a news conference, Tamayo said that as of 11:55 a.m. authorities said 84 people are still unaccounted for. According to ATS, a total of 870 passengers and crew were on board SuperFerry 9.

Citing initial reports, Tamayo said that SuperFerry 9 had problems when its generator "went on and off." Authorities said they would investigate the cause of the sinking as soon as search and rescue operations are over.

The names of the fatalities and cause of their deaths were not immediately available.

In May this year, more than 900 passengers of SuperFerry 9 were left stranded off Camiguin province after the vessel’s engine conked out, according to a radio report.

ATS update

According to an ATS update at 1 p.m. Sunday, rescue operations are ongoing for missing passengers and crew. It was unclear whether the ship was empty or still had people on board when it sank.

In an official statement, ATS said the Philippine Air Force has deployed two PAF helicopters and one OV-10 plane to assist in the search. The Philippine Army and the US AIR force assistance group based in Zamboanga have also deployed helicopters to join the search for missing passengers and crew.

All rescued passengers and crew will be brought to the Zamboanga City port. Assistance including medical treatment, hotel accommodation and transport shall be provided for the ship's passengers and crew, the company said.

SuperFerry 1 is estimated to arrive in Zamboanga City tonight to transfer passengers to Iloilo and Manila. - GMANews.TV

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