Philippines: Death Toll Rises after Storms Capsize 3 Ferries

Nonoy Espina
Bacolod, Philippine
190804-PH-ferry-620.jpg Rescuers check the remains of a ferry after it capsized in rough seas off the coasts Iloilo and Guimaras Island in central Philippines, Aug. 3, 2019.
Red Cross via AP

Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET on 2018-08-05

Three passenger boats capsized amid rough seas and stormy weather in the central Philippines, leaving more than 30 people dead, disaster relief officials said Sunday.

The first two incidents occurred shortly past noon on Saturday off the coasts Iloilo and Guimaras Island when ferries Chi-Chi, which carried 43 passengers and four crew, and Keziah, with four crew, were hit by sudden strong gusts of winds. The two boats were heading for Jordan town on Guimaras Island.

A third accident occurred three hours later when the motorized wooden boat Jenny Vince, with 34 passengers and three crew members, also capsized in the same waters.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Capt. Armand Balilo said search and rescue operations would continue.

“The phenomenon of a squall occurring in the middle of the void in the middle of the sea is what we call a ‘subasco’ in the maritime community. That probably hit them and that may be the initial reason for the sailing problems of the three boats,” Balilo told reporters.

Local disaster officials reported at least 31 bodies had been recovered while 62 others were rescued. They did not provide a breakdown on the number of deaths attributed to each ferry.

Donna Magno, head of the Iloilo City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, initially reported fewer deaths while adding dozens had been rescued.

“We recovered 11 bodies today,” she told reporters before the death count increased.

“After the first incident, there was a cancellation of trips. We were surprised there was another incident,” Magno said.

Small, inter-island ferries form the backbone of transportation in this archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands and sea accidents are common place.

In 1987, the worst peacetime maritime accident in history occurred in the Philippines when a passenger ferry Doña Paz collided with an oil tanker, killing more than 4,000 people.

The maritime accidents occurred while the country was bracing for a storm spotted hovering over the Pacific off Catanduanes province, in the country’s eastern seaboard.

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City, Philippines, contributed to this report.

CORRECTION: An earlier version misstated the number killed on the Doña Paz.


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