Wednesday, June 25, 2008

11 of 23 missing La Union fishermen found in Ilocos Sur

By Yolanda Sotelo-Fuertes
Northern Luzon Bureau
First Posted 12:08:00 06/25/2008

DAGUPAN CITY -- Eleven of the 23 fishermen (not 21 as earlier reported) from Agoo, La Union, who had been reported to be missing at sea at the height of Typhoon “Frank” on Sunday, were rescued on Tuesday in Ilocos Sur, police said Wednesday.

Senior Superintendent Noli Taliño, La Union police director, identified the rescued fishermen as Deolito Sarmiento, Benito Sarmiento, Mark Celeste, Vicente Ofiana, Carlos Ofiana, Rodel Bacalan, Edmundo Azuelo, Roland Lagliba, Jose Niñalga, Noel Rulloda, and Carlos Soriano.

Taliño said the search and rescue team received reports that two boats where the 11 fishermen were riding in were carried by strong winds near the coastline of Sta. Cruz, Ilocos Sur. One of the boats sank in the waters off that town, police said.

Taliño said the fishermen swam to the shore of Sta. Cruz on Tuesday morning when their boat started to sink.

Residents and policemen in the area helped the fishermen and reported their presence to the La Union police.

The rescued fishermen were taken to a hospital in Sta. Lucia, Ilocos Sur, and were later transferred to the La Union Medical Center in Agoo aboard a Philippine Air Force helicopter.

He said the fishermen’s families reported to the La Union police that their relatives failed to return home after they left Agoo at 4 a.m. Sunday to go fishing at the Lingayen Gulf.

The fishermen, residents of the villages of San Nicolas West and Balwarte in Agoo, were on four boats.

Taliño said the search for the remaining 12 fishermen would continue.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Philippine ferry sinks, 700 aboard missing

Manny Mogato and Rosemarie Francisco, Reuters
Published: Sunday, June 22, 2008

MANILA -- More than 700 people were missing on Sunday after a Philippine passenger ship capsized in a typhoon that has killed scores and left a trail of destruction across the archipelago.

Only four people are so far known to have survived the ferry disaster and they said many passengers did not make it off the MV Princess of Stars in time.

Crowded life-rafts sank in the cold, storm-tossed seas.

"Many of us jumped, the waves were so huge, and the rains were heavy," a survivor identified only as Jesse told local radio.

"There was just one announcement over the megaphone, about 30 minutes before the ship tilted to its side."

"Immediately after I jumped, the ship tilted, the older people were left on the ship."

A coast guard vessel trawling the waters around the 23,824 gross tonne ferry, which is upside down with only its bow above the waves, was trying to confirm reports some passengers had made it to a small island.

"We are hoping more people will have reached the shoreline," Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo, the head of the coast guard, told Reuters.

Princess of Stars ran aground on Saturday but the coast guard was unable to reach it because of huge swells and bad weather caused by Typhoon Fengshen, which crashed into the central Philippines on Friday.

Four people have been confirmed dead but most of the 620-plus passengers and 121 crew remain missing. Children's slippers and life jackets have washed ashore.

According to the ship's manifest, there were 20 children and 33 infants on board.

At least two other coast guard vessels were en route to help in rescue efforts and Mr. Tamayo said he hoped divers would be able to scour the submerged ship on Monday.

He said there was no sign fuel was leaking from the ferry but said an oil-spill response team would arrive with one of the two coast guard ships before dawn on Monday.

Princess of Stars sank 3 km from Sibuyan island in the centre of the archipelago.

The vessel's owner, Sulpicio Lines, said it had lost contact with the ferry, which was en route to Cebu from Manila, at around 12.30 p.m. on Saturday.

Dozens of relatives, some in tears, crowded into the offices of Sulpicio Lines in the central city of Cebu, looking for information.

"My father was one of the passengers. Right now there is no good news," said Lani Dakay. "My father is 59, I don't even know if he can swim."

Typhoon Fengshen, with maximum gusts of 195 kph, has killed at least 155 people in central and southern Philippines, including 101 in Iloilo province, where floodwaters submerged whole communities.

"Iloilo is like an ocean. This is the worst disaster we have had in our history," Governor Neil Tupaz told local radio.

Tens of thousands of people in the province remain marooned on the roofs of their submerged houses.

In neighbouring Capiz, more than 2,000 houses were destroyed in the provincial capital and officials were struggling to make contact with communities further afield.

"We got hit real bad this time," said Richard Gordon, the chairman of the Philippines' Red Cross.

After battering Manila on Sunday, Fengshen was expected to exit the north of the country by Monday en route to Taiwan, where it could make landfall in the next few days, according to storm tracker website

More than 20,000 people were being housed in evacuation centres in the centre and south of the archipelago.

An archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is hit by an average of 20 typhoons a year.

© Thomson Reuters 2008 Princess of the Stars_Trip from Cebu to CDO

Richelda's Trip-Cagayan de Oro to Cebu

Survivors tell how they escaped tragedy off Romblon

06/22/2008 | 04:17 PM

MANILA, Philippines - The four survivors of the ill-fated MV Princess of Stars on Sunday granted interview with media and relayed how they survived the mishap off Sibuyan Island amid the rage of typhoon "Frank" (Fengshen).

The four, who were interviewed by a radio station, were initially identified as Jesus Gica of Mandaue City, Oliver Amorin of Lapu-Lapu City, Jessie Buot of Siquijor, and Renato Lanorio of Bantayan Island in Cebu.

According to crew member Lanorio, the ship did not malfunction, but only slowed down its speed as it encountered big waves off the Romblon coast. He said the ferry reached Sibuyan at about 7 a.m., Saturday. Fifteen minutes before noon, Lanorio said the captain told them to abandon ship.

"Yong dalawa kong kasama di ko na nakita ( I was not able to find my two companions)," Lanorio said.

Gica confirmed Lanorio's story, and said the passengers, many wearing life vests, jumped off the ferry.

"Marami kaming tumalon. Malaki ang alon, malakas ang ulan (There were many of us who jumped. The waves were big. The rains were strong)," Gica said, adding that he heard a member of the ship crew shouting only once to passengers to wear their vests.

He said he saw some of the passengers who passed out, and also children and the elderly who failed to wear life vests because they could no longer move to save themselves while the ship was turning upside down.

"Naiwan sa ilalim ang matatanda (Old people were left underneath)," he said.

Gica also said some of the passengers rode "life crafts," but he thought they failed to make it because of the big waves that battered the small vessels.

The ferry reportedly carried 702 passengers and 121 crew members. Of the 823 people, 45 passengers were reportedly minors.

Gica told his family not to worry anymore. "Dito ako, buhay ako. Di ako pinabayaan ng Diyos... (I'm here, I'm alive. God took care of me)." - GMANews.TV

GMAnews.TV_MV Princess of the Stars Capsized

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Ship with more than 700 onboard found capsized - local officials

(file photo of MV Princess of the Stars-this is the same Ship that and companions used as a means of transportation on their way from Cebu to Cagayan de Oro...see video of in her "Vintage ship na kasi,when we are overboard,"hindi umaandar ang airconditioned, all passengers in the first class cabin and airconditioned cabins slept in the canteen area.."yon lang ang may gumaganang aircon"

UPDATE) Ship with more than 700 onboard found capsized - local officials

A passenger ship has sunk off in the waters of Sibuyan Island in Romblon, San Fernando Mayor Nanette Tansingco said in a live interview over dzMM’s Special Coverage on typhoon "Frank".

"Pinaconfirm ko kasi may pumunta mga tao from that area, Sitio Kadipangahan, Barangay Taclobo… Sinabi ko sa kanila na ibaba nila ‘yong speedboat at puntahan nila para makita natin kung ‘yon talaga ay [MV] Princess of the Stars at ‘yon talaga," said Tansingco.

Tansingco explained that she sent a speedboat manned by the San Fernando chief of police and members of the Bantay Dagat and they saw Sulpicio Lines’ MV Princess of the Stars capsized.

She added that her men saw the passenger ship 2-3 kilometers from the shoreline, upside down with a hole in the middle.

"Pinapuntahan ko nga kasi meron silang report kaninang umaga na mayroong tumaob na barko at tumawag na sila sa akin at meron nang nakitang apat na bangkay at yung pangalan na Pincess of the Stars," Tansingco said.

She said four bodies have been recovered. None of the bodies however have been identified, the local chief executive said.

"Yong apat na katawan, ‘yong dalawa ay nasa Barangay Mabolo at ‘yong dalawa ay nasa Barangay España," said Tansingco.

Tansingco said she received the report from the team only 8:30 a.m.

Earlier reports from the maritime authorities said the boat had 626 passengers and 121 crew. Approximately 45 of the passengers were reportedly minors.

Area difficult to reach

The area where the ship was reported to have capsized including the areas where local authorities reported to have recovered bodies were described as difficult to reach, both by land and sea due to the bad weather.

A Coast Guard vessel sent to the area was reported to be still three hours away.

Roads were reported to be almost impassable. The town’s police chief was ordered by Vice-Mayor Laringa Malapitan to proceed to the areas using a motorcycle.

Local authorities however were hoping that survivors would be found as the Sibuyan District Hospital began preparations to receive them.

Ran aground

The passenger ship was reported to have ran aground in Sibuyan Island on Saturday, stranding 747 passengers and crew aboard.

The ship ran aground and experienced an engine breakdown in Sibuyan Island after being battered by strong waves due to typhoon "Frank", radio dzMM reported earlier.

The ship departed Manila Friday evening, and was en route to Cebu.

The ship has 626 passengers and 121 crew, Philippine Coast Guard officials told radio dzMM.

The Coast Guard said three vessels sent to the area, BRP Davao del Norte and two tugboats, returned to port because the vessels were overpowered by strong waves.

Other rescue teams are also having a hard time responding due to strong waves and zero visibility due to heavy rains.

The ship earlier was still able to communicate with the authorities, the Coast Guard said. By late Saturday night however there were no more communications received from the ship.

The Coast Guard vessel BRP Pampanga was reportedly also on its way from Manila to respond to the emergency.

The Coast Guard had also sought the help of other shipping vessels near Sibuyan and Romblon islands to possibly rescue the passengers and crew of the stricken vessel. With reports from Rod Izon, dzMM

Scores Die and Ship Sinks in Storm in Philippines

Published: June 22, 2008

MANILA (Reuters) — A typhoon killed about 80 people in floods and landslides in the Philippines on Saturday, and at least 4 others have died in the sinking of a ferry with more than 700 passengers and crew members.

The ship, the Princess of the Stars, owned by Sulpicio Lines, stalled in rough seas near Sibuyan Island in the central Philippines, officials said. It carried 626 passengers and 121 crew members.

The head of the coast guard, Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo, said he was still verifying the reports.

Nanette Tansingco, the mayor of a coastal town, told a radio station that at least four bodies were found.

“I sent a speedboat to check,” Ms. Tansingco said.“They saw the boat upside down with a big hole in the hull.”

The ship had left Manila on Saturday morning for the central province of Cebu.

The death toll from the storm is highest so far in a Iloilo, a central province. At least 59 people have been killed, and the death toll could rise further, the governor of Iloilo said.

In the southern Philippines, 10 people drowned and five were missing after a river burst its banks in Maguindanao Province.

In Cotabato City, a man and a child were buried in a landslide at a trash dump, the police said. Five other people also drowned.

The typhoon, Fengshen, with winds gusting at more than 120 miles per hour, is moving through the center of the Philippines.

It was expected to leave the area on Sunday and head north toward Taiwan, according to weather forecasters.

The Philippine president, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, ordered cleanup and rescue operations before leaving on an eight-day state visit to the United States.

In the south, the navy used rubber boats to rescue residents stranded in chest-deep water.

The typhoon, the sixth to hit the Philippines this year, tore up trees and power lines.

Flights were canceled and ships kept in harbor.

In Boracay, an island popular with vacationers, tourists deserted the white beach and headed for bars and restaurants.

Heavy rain drenched Manila and rescue crews were prepared for flooding.

Philippine ferry sinks

Philippine ferry sinks; 700-plus passengers on board
Sun Jun 22, 2008 10:56am IST

MANILA, June 22 (Reuters) - A Philippine ferry with more than 700 people on board capsized during a typhoon and most are missing, officials said on Sunday.

MV Princess of Stars-owned by Sulpicio Liners (ship that,and companion boarded on her first trip to Cagayan de Oro)

Rescuers were trying to reach the scene where the MV Princess of Stars sank near Sibuyan island in the centre of the country but churning waves from Typhoon Fengshen made the crossing hazardous.

"The ship is upside down. We are waiting for rescuers but there are none so far. Our pump boats are all broken," Ricardo Aligno, a town councillor from the coastal village of San Fernando, told local radio.

The coast guard expected one of its ships to arrive in the area by early afternoon. The ferry sank about three kilometres from shore.

Local mayor Nanette Tansingco told radio that three survivors had been found.

But at least four others aboard are known to have died.

The bodies of two women and some childrens' slippers were washed ashore. Before dawn on Sunday, some villagers heard warning sirens from the ship, which had 626 passengers and 121 crew on board.