The death toll from the sinking of three boats rose to 25 as rescuers retrieved more bodies from the sea off the Guimaras Strait near Iloilo City, officials said Sunday.
Squalls tipped over the three wooden-hulled outriggers in the strait Saturday as the rest of the country was battered by rains induced by seasonal southwest monsoon winds, the Coast Guard said.
The bodies of 14 passengers and crew were recovered, civil defense official Franco Agudo said, taking the toll to 25.
The office of Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Trenas reported that of the 25 dead victims, three were minors who all died upon arrival in different hospitals shortly after they were pulled up by responding rescuers in rough waters an hour after the incident.
Regional police chief Rene Pamuspusan also confirmed Sunday that 25 people had died, with six others still missing. He said 55 people had been rescued.
On Sunday the state-run Philippine News Agency released a dramatic photo of rescue divers placing two corpses, one still wearing a red life vest, on top of the only parts of one boat left above water.
Reports from the Police Regional Office-6 said the 12 dead passengers were from M/B Chichi and 13 were from M/B Jenny Vince while no one perished from M/B Kezia.
It also reported that a total of 59 passengers from the two motor boats survived the capsizing incident.
The PRO-6 said M/B Chi Chi with 47 passengers, four crew memberss; and M/B Jenny Vince carrying 39 passengers were navigating the Guimaras Strait between Parola and Joardan wharfs when they were buffeted by big waves and strong winds past noon Saturday.
Several hours afterward, the M/B Kezia with four crewmen but without passengers also capsized while traversing the rough waters of the strait.
In a radio interview, a certain Michael Salazar, a survivor said the boat he was riding was in the middle of the sea when suddenly it was whipped by strong winds causing it to lose balance and eventually turn upside down.
He said most of the passengers jumped into the water in fear, some of them without a life vest.
“I was beneath the capsized motor boat and saw some of the passengers without a life jacket,” Salazar said.
Authorities in Iloilo province had reportedly permitted small seacraft to ply their routes since there was no gale warning that was raised.
Trenas has canceled all boat trips from Iloilo to Guimaras and vice versa in the aftermath of the incident.
The Philippine Coast Guard and local disaster crew have intensified search and rescue operations.
The PCG has also started its investigation to determine whether the boats were overloaded and had enough life saving gear.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has provided blankets, used clothing, towels and food items to the survivors while stranded passengers were temporary housed in the Iloilo City municipal compound.
Meanwhile, flash floods hit seven of 11 towns and one city in Batan province on Saturday, affecting nearly 8,000 families, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office reported on Sunday.
Under one- to five-foot deep floodwaters were 11 barangays in Hermosa, five in Dinalupihan, three in Pilar, two in Abucay and one each in Balanga City, Orion and Morong.
On Sunday, the water already subsided in many areas except in Barangays Almacen, Daungan and Pulo in Hermosa that were still under three to five feet of flood.
Angel Ruiz of the office of Gov. Albert Garcia said 40 families were brought to evacuation centers in Hermosa and Pilar on Saturday but returned to their home on Sunday.
Garcia, who chairs the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, ordered the release of relief goods and the mobilization of all concerned agencies for rescue and relief operations.
PDRRMO placed at 7,650 the total number of families affected by the two-day flood.
Meanwhile, a steel bridge temporarily used as passageway by residents to cross the Sibacan River in Balanga City collapsed after debris clogged the waterway coupled with the onslaught of strong flood water. No one was hurt.
Tropical depression “Hanna” intensified into a tropical storm Sunday afternoon.
At 3 p.m., “Hanna” was estimated at 1,060 kilometers east of Tuguegarao City, Cagayan near the center with 65 kilometer per hour winds and gusts of up to 80 kph. It was moving north at 15 kph.
It is forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility on Thursday or Friday.
“Hanna” gained strength and enhanced the southwest monsoon, bringing more rain to Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon. With Rio N. Araja, AFP and PNALOOK: Flash floodREAD: #WalangPasok: Class Suspensions for tomorrow, August 5, 2019
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