Tag Archive: civil defense


The number of deaths caused by typhoon “Ineng” (international name: Goni) rose further to 15 on Sunday as authorities retrieved more bodies from a landslide-hit part of Mankayan, Benguet, authorities said.

Armando Dayao, Felimon Adcapan, and Jasper Olivarez’s bodies were retrieved from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, after Crispin Ablao was retrieved Saturday afternoon, Benguet provincial police spokesperson Senior Inspector Joyce Ann Dayag said.

All four were among a group of people who went missing after a landslide hit Sitio Elizabeth, Brgy. Taneg, early Saturday.

A landslide washed out shanties used by pocket miners in that area around 3 a.m., Cordillera regional police spokesperson Superintendent Cherry Fajardo said.

After Ablao’s body was retrieved past 2 p.m., residents told police that they were still looking for 18 people.

Search and recue operations had to be halted around 5 p.m. Saturday because of rising water level at the nearby creek, poor visibility, and heavy rain, Fajardo said.

Operations resumed Sunday morning, with 95 policemen from different units deployed, Dayag said.

Dayao, Adcapan, and Olivarez’s bodies were eventually retrieved while Jonie Foster and Marpety Bayagen, who had been among those reported as missing, were found alive, she said.

“Both persons (Foster and Bayagen) were confirmed alive. Accordingly, they went home before the incident happened,” Dayag said.

Thirteen people are still missing in the area as of Sunday afternoon, data provided by the Benguet provincial police showed.

They are Ronaldo Angel, Paulita Angel, Ronald Paul Angel, Hohn Aluyan Jr., Jose Aluyan Jr., Efren Balicdan, Mark Balicdan, Nardo Mocnangan, Marvin Baturi, Harold Baturi, Rocky Mangrubang, Crisanto Ablao, and Ramil Reyes.

Andrew Alex Uy, Office of Civil Defense-Cordillera director, confirmed Ablao, Dayao, Adcapan’s deaths in a report emailed Sunday afternoon.

Olivarez’s death has yet to be included in the regional civil defense unit’s list.

Uy, meanwhile, confirmed a death in Tabuk City, Kalinga.

Julius Gumisa’s body was retrieved 11 a.m. Sunday in Brgy. Suyang, Tabuk, after he went missing in Brgy. Caluttit, Bontoc, Mountain Province, the regional OCD chief said in his report.

Gumisa was the lone fatality of drowning in Cordillera, while the rest died in landslides, according to the report.

Landslides occurred as the mountainous region experienced 721.6-millimeter rainfall, or 78.43 percent of the monthly average 920mm, from August 20 to 23.

“The soil is already saturated,” Uy said.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said close to 33,000 persons in Cordillera, Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, Calabarzon, and Mimaropa fled their homes amid landslides, floods, and tornados at the height of “Ineng.”

Some 12,510 persons went to evacuation centers while 20,407 stayed at the home of relatives. Out of the total number of displaced persons, only 8,426 were evacuated ahead of the storm, the NDRRMC noted.

Incidents caused by “Ineng” also destroyed at least 958 houses in Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Cagayan, Batanes, Benguet, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, and Laguna.

The typhoon has also caused at least P124.818 million worth of damage to agriculture and infrastructure in Ilocos region, Cagayan Valley, and Cordillera, according to the NDRRMC. (John Roson)

– end –

Four persons were killed while almost 4,000 were affected by floods and landslides caused by heavy rain in four provinces of Central Mindanao, authorities reported Thursday.

Floods and landslides affected 43 barangays in nine towns and two cities of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and Sarangani, said Minda Morante, director of the Office of Civil Defense-12.

Tupi town of South Cotabato and Brgy. Rajah Muda of Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, declared a state of calamity because of the floods, Morante said in an emailed report.

Couple Nonoy, 74, and Monita Ga, 71, of Brgy. Bunao, Tupi, South Cotabato; Diron Tamarang, 70, of Brgy. Lunen, also in Tupi; and Anita Ochova, 63, of Glan, Sarangani, died in landslides caused by heavy rain, she said.

Five persons, identified as Mercy Magbanua, 27; Kathlyn Magbanua, 1; Jay Argal, 24; Cristy Ochova, 31, and one Jojit Mangisel were injured, she said.

Of the 3,985 individuals affected by floods, 1,798 were evacuated and are currently staying in barangay halls, daycare centers, gymnasiums, and homes of relatives, Morante said.

Most of the evacuees came from Tacurong City and Isulan, Sultan Kudarat; Koronadal City and Tupi, South Cotabato; and Glan, Sarangani.

Floods also left at least four bridges impassable to motorists and caused at least P6.9 million in damage to agriculture, Morante said.

More than 500 hectares of rice fields, more than 80 hectares of cornfields, and at least 7.5 hectares of fishponds were damaged because of the floods, which also left at least 50 farm animals dead or missing, she said.

Heavy rains brought by an intertropical convergence zone hit South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato, and Sarangani from Tuesday night until Wednesday morning, causing the floods, according to Morante.

Local governments are now providing relief goods to the evacuees and are still monitoring the situation in affected areas, she said. (John Roson)

– end –

More troops sent to Maguindanao

The military has deployed additional troops to Maguindanao amid continuing operations against the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

Members of the Samar-based 34th Infantry Battalion arrived in Camp Siongco, Datu Odin Sinsuat, Saturday, said Captain Jo-Ann Petinglay, public affairs officer of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division.

“The deployment marks the start of the ‘holding phase,’ where government forces will establish encampments in former lairs of the BIFF to prevent the armed lawless group from going back,” Petinglay said.

The battalion will also augment the 6th ID’s efforts in maintaining peace and security in Maguindanao, as well as parts of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Lanao del Sur, she said.

Rebel casualties rise

Meanwhile, Armed Forces public affairs chief Lieutenant Colonel Harold Cabunoc said the number of BIFF members killed in military operations since February has reached 139.

Fifty-three members of the rebel group have been wounded and 12 more were apprehended, he said.

Cabunoc said the number of slain rebels rose from the last week’s count of 117, not because there were new clashes, but because of the military’s validation of intelligence reports.

“‘Yung ibang wounded namatay na, at saka mayroong iba na hindi listed as patay or wounded, pero patay pala. ‘Yung iba naman body parts lang, na-artillery, di agad nakilala,” he said.

Operation: Graduation

Cabunoc said operations against the BIFF members will continue even as soldiers are set to conduct peace and development activities in areas where clashes had occurred.

“Security forces will continue to conduct focused military operations against the armed threats like the BIFF and the terrorists that they have coddled,” he said.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang said the hunt for the remaining BIFF members and bomb maker Abdul Basit Usman will be continued until June.

Local authorities in Maguindanao, however, expressed concern over the operations’ effects, especially on students, and even called for a halt to allow graduation exercises this month.

Cabunoc said Catapang ordered the 6th ID to “facilitate” graduation exercises, by helping government and school authorities identify areas where such events can be held.

“They will jointly identify specific places, ‘yung clear na of the armed group,” he said.

Cabunoc said ongoing operations will not affect graduation ceremonies, as BIFF members have already splintered into small groups that roam in the marshlands of Maguindanao.

“Itong BIFF nag-splinter na into small groups, nasa marshlands na ang mga ito, wala nang schools doon,” he said. (John Roson)

– end –

More than 8,000 people in North Cotabato and Maguindanao have fled their homes as clashes between members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) continued, authorities said Monday.

“The situation is escalating” as there are already evacuations in six barangays of Pikit and these are “continuing,” Cynthia Ortega, head of the North Cotabato Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said by phone.

As of 2 p.m. Monday, a total of 1,702 families or more than 8,000 people were monitored to have evacuated in Brgys. Barungis, Bagoinged, Buliok, Rajah Muda, Bulol, and Kabasalan, Ortega said.

“‘Di lang sila makabigay ng update doon kasi sige ang evacuation… We can say nag-escalate na ‘yung situation kasi marami nang barangays ang affected,” she said.

About 500 families also evacuated in neighboring Pagalungan, Maguindanao, where the clashes are occurring, according to initial reports recieved by the Office of Civil Defense-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Senior Superintendent Danilo Peralta, North Cotabato provincial police director, said clashes between the MILF and BIFF are “continuing” in Pagalungan and have forced many residents there to evacuate to Pikit.

“Marami sa mga ito ay taga-Pagalungan, tumawid sila dito para makaiwas dun sa bakbakan ng MILF at BIFF doon sa kanila,” Peralta said when contacted by phone during his visit to an evacuation center.

Sounds of the ongoing clashes can sometimes be heard in Pikit, which is just adjacent to Pagalungan, he said.

“Minsan, ‘pag tahimik, nadidinig namin dito ‘yung mga mortar (explosion), mangilan-ngilan,” Peralta said.

The official, however, noted that policemen and soldiers do not interfere in the fighting because it is “internal” to the MILF and BIFF.

Peralta, meanwhile, said authorities in Pikit find no problem in hosting evacuees from Pagalungan and are even handing them relief goods.

“Welcome naman dito ‘yung mga taga-Maguindanao kasi ‘yang Maguindanao dati ring Cotabato ‘yan, nahati lang, so kahit taga-doon ang evacuees, kahit Bangsamoro sila at may Christians kami dito, welcome sila at binibigyan ng pagkain dito,” Peralta said. (John Roson)

– end –

The number of fatalities caused by typhoon “Glenda” (Rammasun) surged to 51 Thursday, as authorities recieved more reports of casualties from Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) region, where the storm knocked down many power and telecommunication lines.

Storm-caused deaths rose to 33 in Calabarzon alone and three people are still missing, according to a report from the Office of Civil Defense 4A.

Eleven died in Laguna, followed by eight in Quezon, six in Batangas, five in Cavite, and three in Rizal.

Most of the fatalities were hit by falling trees, collapsing walls, and other storm debris, while some drowned and one suffered heart attack while being rescued, according to the report.

One of the fatalities in the OCD-4A report, identified as Mario Moral, was captain of a fishing boat that capsized off Cavite City on Wednesday because of rough sea conditions caused by “Glenda.”

Navy personnel found Moral’s body near their base in Sangley Point past 3 p.m. and rescued his four companions, according to a report from the Cavite provincial police.

“Quezon province is the hardest hit by typhoon ‘Glenda.’ The region is still waiting for reports of local governments whose communication lines were damaged, which resulted in the slow generation and submission of reports,” OCD 4A director Vicente Tomazar said in his report.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, meanwhile, said 18 people died in Metro Manila (2), Central Luzon (4), Mimaropa (5), Bicol (4), Western Visayas (1), and Eastern Visayas (2).

One of the fatalities in Central Luzon, identified as 69-year-old Pacita Janggui, suffered a stroke when the roof of her house in Sto. Tomas, Pampanga, was blown off by the typhoon’s strong winds, according to the NDRRMC.

The fatality in Western Visayas, Felipe Royo, was previously reported as missing. He was carried away by waters of a river that he tried to cross in Janiuay, Iloilo.

One person remains missing in Marinduque, according to the NDRRMC.

“Glenda” damaged 19,257 houses and destroyed 7,002 others in Ilocos region, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Bicol, Eastern Visayas, and Metro Manila.

The storm also destroyed at least P1.135 billion worth of crops and livestock in Central Luzon, Mimaropa, and Bicol, and left at least P49.1 million worth of damage to infrastructure in Bataan, Nueva Ecija, and Metro Manila, according to the NDRRMC. (John Roson)

– end –

South Korea agreed to extend its rehabilitation mission in typhoon-wrecked areas of Leyte, Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin said Wednesday.

“They have agreed, as I requested, for the extension of the troops in their objective to help in the rehabilitation,” Gazmin said in a press briefing.

A second contingent of South Korean engineers and medical workers will arrive to replace the first that came to Tanauan and Palo after super-typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) struck last November, he said.

The first contingent and its members will be awarded on June 10, before they leave, Gazmin said.

About 500 South Korean troops are presently helping rebuild Leyte.

The second contingent, comprising 300 people including Marine troopers, was activated on May 27, according to a statement from the South Korean Defense Ministry. (John Roson)

– end –

Three people were confirmed killed while three others remain missing due to incidents caused by tropical storm “Maring” and the southwest monsoon in different parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, authorities said Monday.

Two persons were killed when a dike in Tanza, Cavite, collapsed amid heavy rains around 8 a.m Monday, Vicente Tomazar, director of the Office of Civil Defense-Calabarzon, said in a phone interview.

On Sunday afternoon, a passenger jeepney figured in an accident in Sitio Lenneng, Cabugao, Apayao, leaving Franco Pedrito Cawayan dead and nine other persons seriously injured, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council said in a report.

Also on Sunday, 31 tourists and tour guides were trapped inside the Sumaguing Cave in Sagada, Mt. Province, when rainwater flooded the cave, Insp. Kristine Gamboa, Sagada Police chief, said.

Thirty of the group, including some Japanese nationals, have been rescued but a female tourist from Pangasinan remains missing as of Monday noon, Gamboa told Bandera.

One Rosalino Calantay, 30, and Monching Bakidan, 20, were also reported missing after they were carried away while trying to cross rivers in Tubo, Abra, and Bontoc, Mt. Province, the NDRRMC said.

Heavy rains brought by tropical strom “Maring” and the southwest monsoon also caused at least six landslides in Abra, the agency said.

In Cavite province, parts of Tanza, Rosario, Bacoor, Noveleta, and Carmona towns suffered floods like San Pedro, Binan, and Sta. Rosa of Laguna, Tomazar said.

“Mataas ang tubig ngayon sa Laguna Lake… apektado ‘yung mga coastal municipalities ng lawa,” he said, adding that many families were forced to flee their homes and take shelter in 11 evacuation centers.

Evacuations were also reported in San Mateo, Rodriguez, and Cainta towns of Rizal province, Tomazar said.

In Batangas, evacuations were also recorded in Lipa City, Sto. Tomas, and Alitagtag, Senior Insp. Dwight Fonte, Batangas provincial police spokesman, said.

In Metro Manila, at least 119 families or 557 persons evacuated in Makati City and Marikina City, the NDRRMC said. (John Roson)

– end –

(Updated 6 p.m.) At least 31 people died while 629 others were rescued and 216 more remain missing after a passenger vessel collided with a cargo ship and sank in waters off Talisay, Cebu, Friday night, authorities said.

Cmdr. Winiel Azcuna, Coast Guard Station Cebu commander, gave the figures as Navy vessels, Coast Guard ships, and civilian seacraft continued to scour the seas for survivors Saturday.

The fatalities include four persons who divers recovered near the area where the ill-fated M/V St. Thomas Aquinas sank, Lt. Jim Alagao, Armed Forces’ Central Command (Centcom) public affairs officer, said.

“Kasama na diyan ‘yung apat na nakita sa vicinity ng lumubog na Aquinas. Nakuha ng mga divers ng NAVSOU5 (Naval Special Operations Unit-5) at a depth of 120 feet (36.58 meters),” Alagao said in a text message.

Of the survivors, 247 were brought to different hospitals in Cebu City for treatment and medical checks, he said.

Navy troops also rescued an infant, who was in critical condition and brought to a Coast Guard vessel so it can be quickly taken to a hospital, Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Fabic said in a statement.

Some 58 infants were reportedly on board the St. Thomas Aquinas when it sank after colliding with Sulpicio Lines’ cargo ship, M/V Sulpicio Express-7, around 9 p.m. Friday near Lauis Ledge, according to the Navy.

Divers scattered

Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, Centcom chief, said Navy and Coast Guard divers were deployed Saturday morning to the collision site and found the sunken ship at about 150 feet (45.7 meters).

Technical divers were also set to come to help authorities determine if there are still people inside the ship, he said.

The site of the collision is about 600 yards (548 meters) west of Lauis Ledge and 45 fathoms (82.3 meters) deep, Alagao said.

More Navy divers from Manila and Palawan arrived in Cebu on a C-130 military plane on Saturday to join the search for the missing persons, he said.

The missing persons, fatalities, and survivors were all occupants of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, Azcuna said.

Weather threatens search

Saturday’s search and rescue operations went smoothly until the afternoon, when the weather turned bad.

“Huminto sa pagpapalipad ng dalawang choppers due to bad weather,” Alagao said in a text message past 3 p.m.

Azcuna said the Cebu City Pier, where his Coast Guard Station sits, even experienced a power outage in the afternoon.

Search for the missing persons continued despite this. “Tuluy-tuloy po ‘yung operation natin, together with the Philippine Navy and other local government units,” Azcuna said.

The operations were launched after authorities received a distress call from the St. Thomas Aquinas a few minutes after 9 p.m. Friday.

The St. Thomas Aquinas, owned by 2Go Group Inc., started taking in water right after the collision and was already sinking two hours later, Deveraturda said.

“‘Yung barko ay nag-take in ng water and is starting to [sink], palubog na… pumapasok na ‘yung water sa hull niya,” Deveraturda said when reached by phone 11 p.m. Friday.

Only 841 in manifest

In a statement posted on its website, 2Go said the St. Thomas Aquinas’ manifest listed only 723 passengers and 118 crew, or a total of 841 people, as well as 104 units of 20-footer containers.

Tallying the number of fatalities, survivors, and missing persons provided by the authorities puts the number of people on the vessel at 876, or 35 more than those in the manifest as claimed by 2Go.

But 2Go said the ship has an “authorized capacity” of 1,010 passengers and crew, and 160 units of 20-footer containers.

Earlier, Deveraturda said initial reports from the ground indicated that the St. Thomas Aquinas only had 690 passengers.

Minda Morante, Office of Civil Defense-7 director, said she received “raw information” that only more than 400 passengers were listed when the St. Thomas Aquinas left Nasipit Port in Agusan del Norte for Cebu.

“Minsan merong mga nakaakyat na sa barko, doon na lang kumukuha ng ticket, hindi mo talaga ma-account yan,” Morante said.

Ill-fated meeting

According to 2Go, the St. Thomas Aquinas came from Surigao and Nasipit Port, and headed to Cebu for a 10 p.m. stopover before proceeding to Manila.

The Sulpicio Express-7, on the other hand, had just left Cebu City Pier for Davao, Morante said.

“Papasok na siya (M/V St. Thomas Aquinas) sa Cebu City port, tapos ‘yung isa namang barko from the Cebu City port, palabas naman, nagpang-abot sila, ganoon ang nangyari,” she said.

Morante said she alerted all hospitals in Talisay and nearby towns upon learning about the mishap because of an expected influx of patients.

“Nag-alerto tayo ng mga ospital na silang lahat ay to recieve and receive, kasi di ‘yun kakayanin lahat ng Talisay District Hospital,” she said.

“Immediately after the collision, the crew of the M/V St. Thomas distributed life jackets to the passengers and carried out emergency abandon-ship procedures. At the same time, the ship’s officers sent a distress signal to the nearest Philippine Coast Guard Station to alert them for immediate rescue operations,” 2Go said for its part.

An emergency operations center was also activated at port to give assistance, including meal packs and dry clothes, to survivors, it said.

“Those needing medical attention have been attended to by onsite medical personnel while others have already been brought to nearby hospitals. The rest of the passengers have been offered accommodations at a nearby hotel,” the company added. (John Roson)

– end –

this post has been updated. see update here

(Updated 10 a.m.) Thirty-five people died while 630 others were rescued and 216 more remain missing after a passenger vessel collided with a cargo ship and sank in waters off Talisay, Cebu, Friday night, a military official said.

Of the survivors, 247 were brought to different hospitals in Cebu City for treatment and medical checks, Lt. Jim Alagao, Armed Forces’ Central Command (Centcom) public affairs officer, said in a phone interview.

Alagao gave the figures as Navy vessels, Coast Guard ships, and civilian seacraft continued to scour the seas for survivors Saturday.

Navy and Coast Guard divers were also deployed Saturday morning to the collision site, which is about 600 yards (0.54 kilometers) West of Lawis Ledge and 45 fathoms (82.3 meters) deep, Alagao said.

Divers plunged to about 80 feet but were unable to spot the sunken ship because of low visibility, he said.

The missing persons, fatalities, and survivors were all occupants of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, Cmdr. Weniel Azcuna, Coast Guard Station Cebu commander, said.

The passenger vessel sank after colliding with the M/V Sulpicio Express 7 around 9 p.m. Friday near Lawis Ledge, Azcuna said.

The St. Thomas Aquinas, owned by 2GO Group Inc., started taking in water right after the collision and was already sinking two hours later, Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, Centcom chief, said.

“‘Yung barko ay nag-take in ng water and is starting to [sink], palubog na… pumapasok na ‘yung water sa hull niya,” Deveraturda said when reached by phone 11 p.m.

In a statement posted on its website, 2GO said the St. Thomas Aquinas’ manifest listed only 723 passengers and 118 crew, or a total of 841 people, as well as 104 equivalent 20-footer container units.

Tallying the number of fatalities, survivors, and missing persons provided by the authorities puts the number of people on the vessel at 881, or 40 more than those in the manifest as claimed by 2GO.

But 2GO said the ship has an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew, and 160 units of 20-footer containers.

Earlier, Deveraturda said initial reports from the ground indicate that the St. Thomas Aquinas only had 690 passengers.

Minda Morante, Office of Civil Defense-7 director, said she received a “raw infomation” that only more than 400 passengers were listed when the St. Thomas Aquinas left Nasipit Port in Agusan del Norte for Cebu.

“‘Yun ang isa sa mga sinusubukan namng i-confirm dito… ‘Yung ganyan, although raw information, kasi minsan merong mga nakaakyat na sa barko, doon na lang kumukuha ng ticket, hindi mo talaga ma-account yan,” Morante said.

According to 2GO, the St. Thomas Aquinas came from Surigao and Nasipit Port, and headed to Cebu for a 10 p.m. stopover before proceeding to Manila.

The Sulpicio Express-7, on the other hand, had just left Cebu Pier for Davao, Morante said.

“Papasok na siya (M/V St. Thomas Aquinas) sa Cebu City Port, tapos yung isa namang barko from the Cebu City Port, palabas naman, nagpang-abot sila, ganoon ang nangyari,” she said.

Morante said she alerted all hospitals in Talisay and nearby towns upon learning about the mishap because of an expected influx of patients.

“Nag-alerto tayo ng mga ospital na silang lahat ay to recieve and receive, kasi lahat di ‘yun kakayanin ng Talisay District Hospital,” she said.

“Immediately after the collision, the crew of the M/V St. Thomas distributed life jackets to the passengers and carried out emergency abandon-ship procedures. At the same time, the ship’s officers sent a distress signal to the nearest Philippine Coast Guard Station to alert them for immediate rescue operations,” 2GO said for its part.

An emergency operations center was also activated at port to give assistance, including meal packs and dry clothes, to survivors, it said.

“Those needing medical attention have been attended to by onsite medical personnel while others have already been brought to nearby hospitals. The rest of the passengers have been offered accommodations at a nearby hotel,” the company added. (John Roson)

– end –

this post has been updated. see update here

this post has been updated. see update here

Thirteen people died while 572 others were rescued after a passenger vessel collided with a cargo ship and sank in waters off Talisay, Cebu, Friday night, a Coast Guard official said.

Cmdr. Winiel Azcuna, Coast Guard Station Cebu commander, gave the figures as Coast Guard ships, Navy vessels, and other seacraft continued to scour the seas for survivors Saturday morning.

“Maximum number of assets ng Philippine Navy at Philippine Coast Guard ang ating dineploy po doon sa area and kasama din natin ‘yung mga local government units, nagpadala sila ng mga bangka para mag-rescue ng mga pasahero nung lumubog na barko,” Azcuna said in a phone interview 4 a.m.

A total of 321 people are still “missing or unaccounted for,” Lt. Jim Alagao, public affairs officer of the Armed Forces’ Central Command (Centcom), said in a text message.

Navy and Coast Guard divers were deployed Saturday morning to the collision site, which is about 600 yards (0.54 kilometers) West of Lawis Ledge and 45 fathoms (82.3 meters) deep, Alagao added.

The missing persons, fatalities, and survivors were all occupants of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas, which sank after colliding with the M/V Sulpicio Express-7 around 9 p.m. Friday near Lawis Ledge, Azcuna said.

The St. Thomas Aquinas, owned by 2GO Group Inc., started taking in water right after the collision and was already sinking two hours later, Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, Centcom chief, said.

“‘Yung barko ay nag-take in ng water and is starting to [sink], palubog na… pumapasok na ‘yung water sa hull niya,” Deveraturda said when reached by phone 11 p.m.

In a statement posted on its website, 2GO said the St. Thomas Aquinas’ manifest listed 723 passengers and 118 crew, or a total of 841 people, as well as 104 equivalent 20-footer container units.

Tallying the number of fatalities, survivors, and missing persons provided by authorities would show that there were 906 people on the vessel, 65 more than those in the manifest.

But 2GO said the ship has an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew, and 160 units of 20-footer containers.

Earlier, Deveraturda said initial reports from the ground indicate that the St. Thomas Aquinas only had 690 passengers.

Minda Morante, Office of Civil Defense-7 director, said she received a “raw infomation” that only more than 400 passengers were listed when the St. Thomas Aquinas left Nasipit Port in Agusan del Norte for Cebu.

“‘Yun ang isa sa mga sinusubukan namng i-confirm dito… ‘Yung ganyan, although raw information, kasi minsan merong mga nakaakyat na sa barko, doon na lang kumukuha ng ticket, hindi mo talaga ma-account yan,” Morante said.

According to 2GO, the St. Thomas Aquinas came from Surigao and Nasipit Port, and headed to Cebu for a 10 p.m. stopover before proceeding to Manila.

The Sulpicio Express-7, on the other hand, had just left Cebu Pier for Davao, Morante said.

“Papasok na siya (M/V St. Thomas Aquinas) sa Cebu City Port, tapos yung isa namang barko from the Cebu City Port, palabas naman, nagpang-abot sila, ganoon ang nangyari,” she said.

Morante said she alerted all hospitals in Talisay and nearby towns upon learning about the mishap because of an expected influx of patients.

“Nag-alerto tayo ng mga ospital na silang lahat ay to recieve and receive, kasi lahat di ‘yun kakayanin ng Talisay District Hospital,” she said.

“Immediately after the collision, the crew of the M/V St. Thomas distributed life jackets to the passengers and carried out emergency abandon-ship procedures. At the same time, the ship’s officers sent a distress signal to the nearest Philippine Coast Guard Station to alert them for immediate rescue operations,” 2GO said for its part.

An emergency operations center was also activated at port to give assistance, including meal packs and dry clothes, to survivors, it said.

“Those needing medical attention have been attended to by onsite medical personnel while others have already been brought to nearby hospitals. The rest of the passengers have been offered accommodations at a nearby hotel,” the company added. (John Roson)

– end –

this post has been updated. see update here