Manila: Passengers leapt into the dark sea and parents dropped children into life rafts when a ferry carrying nearly 1,000 people capsized in the middle of the night in the southern Philippines.
Nine people died and more than 30 were missing though rescue efforts saved about 900 terrified victims on the Superferry 9 yesterday after it turned on its side 15 kms off
Zamboanga del Norte province.
The vessel's violent rotation roused frightened passengers from their sleep and sent many jumping in the darkness into the water, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo
Many aboard panicked as the huge ferry listed, said passenger Reymark Belgira. He said he saw parents tossing children to people on life rafts below, but he could not
immediately jump himself.
"I held on to the ferry for hours until daybreak. I couldn't jump into the water in the dark," Belgira said.
Rescuers transferred 926 of 968 passengers and crewmen to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat, Tamayo said. A search was under way for 33 missing people.
"We really hope they're just unaccounted for due to the confusion," Tamayo told The Associated Press.
A coast guard statement said rescue efforts were continued through the night.
First Published: Monday, September 07, 2009, 08:45