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Ferry mishap leaves 5 dead, scores missing
By Manolo B. Jara April 04, 2015
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MANILA: The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) on Friday reported that five people drowned and 14 others rescued when an “unregistered” and “overloaded” passenger ferry capsized and sank off Sulu in troubled Mindanao even as officials kept a close watch on typhoon Maysak that threatened to wreak havoc and destruction over wide areas on the country’s main island of Luzon.

Commander Armand Balilo, the PCG spokesman, said scores of others were reported missing during the sinking on Holy Thursday of the ferry MPB Wilayza which was carrying 50 passengers excluding the crew as well as steel bars and hundreds of bags of cement.

Balilo said the sinking coincided with the entry of typhoon Maysak  (local codename Chedeng) into the country also on Holy Thursday that threatened to spoil the Holy Week observance of thousands of Filipinos and foreign tourists who joined the annual exodus to the provinces.

Among those rescued, he said, were seven children while the PCG as well as the military and police joined hands with Sulu fishermen in searching for the others missing.

However, Balilo pointed out the sea condition was normal when the ferry capsized and sank off Sulu, adding the disaster could be traced to overloading and that the vessel was not registered with the PCG and other maritime government agencies.

In a televised media briefing on Friday, meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported that although Maysak continued to weaken, it would affect about 5.6 million families or 56 million individuals, or half of the estimated 100 million Filipinos, over wide areas of Luzon including Metro Manila.

Undersecretary Alexander Pama, the NDRRMC chief, said the government would implement the pre-emptive or forced evacuation of many of the Filipinos especially those living along coastal areas threatened by storm surges and major river systems that could overflow their banks and cause flash floods.

Pama said they were determined to pursue the order of President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino to achieve “zero casualty” with the entry of Maysak. His aides earlier said Aquino has decided to stay at Malacanang Palace for the Holy Week to check on preparations to blunt the disastrous impact of the typhoon.

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