PHILIPPINES – An unregistered passenger vessel overloaded with cargo capsized in the waters off Pata and Tapul Island in the province of Sulu Thursday night, the Philippine Coast Guard said today.
Based on the report released by the military’s Joint Task Group Sulu (JTGS), the MPB Wilayza was believed to be overloaded with several sacks of cements, iron bars and more than 50 passengers and crew when it capsized Thursday night.
The sinking occurred as typhoon Chedeng, international name Maysak, entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility Thursday night. Authorities, however, said the sea condition was normal when the vessel capsized.
JTGS Commander Col. Allan Arojado said a search and rescue operation was ongoing. Initial operations resulted to the recovery of five bodies and 14 other passengers.
The fatalities were all residents of Talipao ang Tapul in Sulu.
Among the 14 rescued people were children. They are currently undergoing treatment at a hospital in Sulu, Arojado said.
Some of the survivors were brought to the island of Tapul and are being taken care of by barangay officials.
Several passengers were still missing and navy and Coast Guard vessels race with time to comb the area for possible survivors.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Atmospheric Geological and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has raised storm signal No. 1 in Catanduanes, Camarines Sur.
Chedeng, still packing sustained top near-center winds of 165 kilometers per hour as of Friday morning, could make landfall Sunday evening or early Monday morning in Isabela just south of the town of Palanan, PAGASA said in its latest bulletin.
Chedeng also has wind gusts of up to 200 kph, PAGASA said.
Cyclones with maximum sustained winds of over 118 kph are classified as typhoons by PAGASA. – BusinessNewsAsia.com