Police in the Philippines say one person has died and nearly 100 have had to be rescued after a ferry struck floating debris at sea and took on water Saturday
MANILA, Philippines — One person died and nearly 100 had to be rescued after a ferry in the central Philippines struck floating debris at sea and took on water Saturday, police said.
The accident involving the King Sto. Nino 7, which was carrying 98 people, was the third to hit the country in just over a week, police said.
All those on board were rescued, except for a female passenger who suffered a heart attack and died during the scramble for safety as water gushed into the wooden-hulled vessel in sunny weather off the island town of Corcuera in Romblon province, officials said.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippines because of frequent storms, poorly maintained boats, overcrowding and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
After some passengers on the King Sto. Nino 7 managed to call for help, coast guard personnel and nearby ferry boats approached to rescue the 93 passengers and five crew members, who were brought to a nearby village, Corcuera police chief Capt. Rosie Galus told The Associated Press by telephone.
The police and the coast guard initially came up with differing reports on the number of people on board the ferry but later met to compare their counts, police said. At least three of the passengers were injured, the coast guard said.
It was not clear what hit the ferry boat but the skipper suspected it may have been a floating piece of log that punched a hole in the wooden hull, said Galus, who talked with the skipper.
In a similar accident on Thursday, a wooden ferry boat struck floating debris at sea and took on water off Polillo island in the northeastern province of Quezon. All 60 passengers and seven crewmen were rescued by other ferry boats the and the coast guard, officials said.
Last week, 27 people died when an overcrowded ferry boat flipped over in Laguna de Bay minutes after leaving Binangonan town, southeast of the capital, Manila. Strong winds had lashed the boat, sparking panic among many passengers, who moved to one side of the wooden boat and caused it to turn upside down after its bamboo outriggers broke, the coast guard and police said.
More than 40 other passengers and crew members on the Aya Express were rescued, the coast guard said.
Criminal charges have been filed against the skipper of the Aya Express, his two crewmen, the owner and a coast guard officer who allowed the overloaded ferry to sail.
The skipper, who has been detained, acknowledged that he knew the ferry was over capacity but told authorities he could not convince the excess passengers to disembark, coast guard officials said.
In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank in Philippine waters after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.