Rescuers continue to scour the waters off the southern Phillipines for around 30 people still missing after a ferry sank with 964 passengers and crew on board. The vast majority were plucked to safety after being told to don lifejackets and take to the water, but the body count has risen to nine.
Survivors have been telling how the ferry first started listing before the order to abandon ship was given. “The crew was gone, all of them were gone,” said one man. “We were gathered at the ship’s rear, there were around 100 of us.” A tearful woman survivor said: “A man who was helping a child, hit his head on the boat and fell. The child was crying and crying, and the man accidently let go of him. The man drowned, he could not breathe. The rescuers had to get him from below.” The Superferry 9 went down off the west coast of the Zamboanga peninsula on its way to Iloilo in the north. The rescue effort has been helped by good weather and the presence of other vessels in the area. As hope fades of finding anyone else alive, relatives of the victims want to know why and how such a tragedy could occur. Ferries are an important mode of transport in the Phillipines but their safety record is abysmal and many maritime accidents happen due to poor maintenace or overcrowding. The crew is said by the Phillipine coastguard to have reported problems with the ship’s generator.