Rescuers searched today for survivors of a typhoon that capsized a ferry, flooded villages and left many hundreds dead or missing along...
MANILA, Philippines — Rescuers searched today for survivors of a typhoon that capsized a ferry, flooded villages and left many hundreds dead or missing along its violent path.
Powerful waves and winds hampered efforts to reach the ferry but crews found no immediate signs of the more than 740 passengers and crew.
Coast-guard frogmen who managed to get to the stricken ship got no response when they rapped on the hull with metal instruments, then had to give up late Sunday due to the strong waves. Rescuers hoped to get inside today.
Typhoon Fengshen has killed at least 137 people across the sprawling archipelago, setting off landslides and floods, and knocking out electricity.
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So far, 38 people from the ferry are known to have made it to land. Six bodies, including those of a man and woman who had bound themselves together, have washed ashore, along with children’s slippers and life jackets.
Officials were checking reports that a large number of survivors might have reached one nearby island and that a life raft was spotted off another, coast-guard spokesman Cmdr. Antonio Cuasito said.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo talked to officials in a teleconference aired live on nationwide radio Sunday, scolding coast-guard officials for allowing the ferry to leave Manila late Friday despite the bad weather.
Reynato Lanoria, a janitor on the ship, estimated about 100 people could have survived, “but the others were trapped inside.”
“I think they are all dead by now,” he told DZMM radio after making it to shore by jumping in the water and reaching a life raft.
Lanoria said he was on the top deck when a crew member ordered people to put on life vests around 11:30 a.m. Saturday. About 30 minutes later, the ship began tilting so fast that elderly people and children fell on the rain-slickened deck.
In the central province of Iloilo, Gov. Neil Tupaz said 59 people drowned, with an additional 40 missing.
“Almost all the towns are covered by water. It’s like an ocean,” Tupaz said.