40 dead as Philippine ferry overturns


Manila, Philippines–Forty people, 11 of them children, died after a ferry capsized in a “freak accident” off Masbate Province on Tuesday. This is latest in a series of maritime tragedies in the country.

The Philippine Coast Guard said the interisland ferry, the Don Dexter Cathlyn, overturned after being battered by tough winds and waves on the way to Sorsogon Province south of Manila.

The Philippine Red Cross said more than 100 passengers had been rescued, but that at least a dozen more were still missing.

The ship’s manifest listed only 119 passengers, although the coast guard said many passengers often do not register. Interisland ferries in the Philippines are often overloaded with passengers and cargo.

The dead bodies were lined up and covered, with wailing people checking them for missing loved ones. The survivors, most of whom experienced shock, sleeplessness and starvation, would undergo “stress debriefing,” the relief agency said.

In an interview, Coast Guard spokesman Captain Enrico Evangelista said the special board of marine inquiry will determine if the tragedy, which killed at least 40 passengers, was due to a force majeure or human error.

Such accidents frequently happen in the Philippine archipelago due to tropical weather, badly maintained passenger boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.