First published: 12:34 p.m., June 14, 2013 | Updated: 6:59 p.m., June 14, 2013
By Patricia de Leon and Paola Palma
At least two persons died, while 55 others were rescued after MV Lady of Mount Carmel, a Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro-Ro) ship sank off the coast of Masbate early Friday morning.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) identified the dead as Carlota Singa and Erlinda Joviltado.
Nineteen of the rescued passengers brought to a hospital in Aroroy, Masbate. Search-and-rescue efforts continue.
Five or six others remain missing.
The MV Lady of Mount Carmel sank around 5:30 a.m. (11:30 pm on June 13), en route to Masbate island, three hours after it left Albay province in the Bicol region.
The ferry is completely under water off the coast of Burias island, it said.
Rear Admiral Rodolfo Isorena, PCG commandant, said that the vessel MCS-3006 and a helicopter had been dispatched to join the search-and-rescue operations for the 22 crew members and at least 35 passengers on board.
Not all of the passengers were listed in the manifest, according to the Coast Guard.
Two passenger buses and a cargo truck were also on board.
"We are conducting search and rescue operations. We will not stop until all the passengers and crew have been accounted for," Isorena said. "We requested even the commercial vessels that travel regularly to Masbate to divert their voyage and to assist in search-and-rescue operations"
Isorena added that he had not yet received reports regarding the cause of the incident, but he said that the weather was good and that the vessel did not appear to be overloaded.
An investigation would follow as soon as all the passengers and crew aboard the ship had been accounted for.
Earlier Friday, the PCG sent off the Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) Corregidor and BRP Pampanga to participate in the biennial Maritime Pollution Exercise in Makassar, Indonesia.
The BRP Pampanga will make a detour through Burias Island to augment search-and-rescue efforts.
It is equipped with a decompression chamber that can help divers who might suffer from decompression sickness.
On board BRP Pampanga are divers and medical personnel. (With a report from Reuters)
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