Sunday, November 26, 2006

Rescuers Search For Missing Boat Passengers

BUKIDNON PROVINCE (Juan Magtanggol / 26 Nov) - Rescuers continue to search Sunday for at least 21 passengers of an outrigger that capsized off Hinatuan Island near the southern Philippine city of Surigao, officials said.

At least 66 passengers had been rescued since Saturday, but 14 others drowned from the tragedy when huge waves battered the boat, MV Leonida, said Surigao City Mayor Alfonso Casura.

"Our efforts are continuing and rescuers are still searching for the missing passengers," he said on Sunday.

He said among those missing was Mayor Arlene Navarro, of Del Carmen town in Surigao del Norte province. The boat, he said, left Surigao City on Saturday afternoon and was heading for Siargao island with a cargo of 300 bags of cement and rice.

"Big waves slammed the boat and it leaned on its right side and eventually capsized," the mayor said.

He said the boat can carry up to 150 passengers. "We are now investigating the cause of this tragedy," he said.Casura on Sunday also appealed on television for diving equipment. "We have divers here, but we need more equipment. We can't possible dive at the depth of 300 feet without safety gears and equipment," he said.

It was not immediately known how many children or women died or are still missing, but Casura said fishermen and the Coast Guard were helping in the search. (Mindanao Examiner)

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