Scores die trapped in cap­sized ferry

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS -

A FERRY car­ry­ing 189 pas­sen­gers and crew yesterday cap­sized as it left a cen­tral Philip­pine port in choppy wa­ters, leav­ing at least 36 dead and 26 miss­ing.

Coast Guard of­fi­cials said at least 127 peo­ple from the M/ B Kim Nir­vana were res­cued by nearby fish­ing boats and coast­guard per­son­nel or swam to safety off Or­moc city on Leyte Is­land.

Coast Guard spokesman Ar­mand Balilo said the wooden outrigger ferry was leav­ing Or­moc for the Camotes Is­lands, about 44km to the south, when it was lashed by strong waves.

He said the cap­tain and some of the crew were res­cued and were in cus­tody pend­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Sur­vivors said the bow of the ferry sud­denly rose from the wa­ter be­fore the ves­sel flipped onto its side, turn­ing it up­side down and trap­ping pas­sen­gers un­der­neath.

Mary Jane Drake, who was trav­el­ling with her mother and Amer­i­can hus­band, said the ferry was pulling slowly out of the port when it sud­denly flipped to the left in strong

It over­turned very swiftly. There was no time to jump SUR­VIVOR, MARY JANE DRAKE

waves and over­turned, trap­ping her and other pas­sen­gers.

Mrs Drake, her mother and her hus­band swam to safety from un­der­neath the ferry. “No one was able to jump out be­cause it over­turned very swiftly. There was no time to jump,” she said.

Her hus­band, Lawrence Drake, a 48- year- old re­tired fire­fighter from Rochester, New York, said he ran to one side of the boat to try to bal­ance it but it was too late.

“I jumped out of my seat and ran to the front as far as I could, and tried to lean over,” he said.

“I am a big guy, and tried to push the boat back over but it was way too late.”

Many of the pas­sen­gers were scream­ing in panic, he said.

TV footage showed Coast Guard res­cuers car­ry­ing sur­vivors from rub­ber boats to a beach. Not far away, the bot­tom part of the ves­sel could be seen pro­trud­ing from the wa­ter.

Of­fi­cials said it wasn’t im­me­di­ately clear what caused the ac­ci­dent. Cloudy weather at the time of the ac­ci­dent did not pose any dan­ger that would have forced the Coast Guard to stop sea voy­ages, they said.

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