Manila: Rescuers combed the waters off
the Philippine capital on Christmas Day for at least 23 people
missing after a ferry sank, capping a year of deadly disasters
for the struggling nation.
The Catalyn B, a flimsy, single-hulled wooden vessel
taking Christmas holidaymakers to their home village on a
small island, smashed into the side of a much larger fishing
boat at the mouth of Manila Bay yesterday, killing at least
four people, the authorities said.
Officials are holding out hope that at least some of
the other passengers and crew may have somehow survived and
are afloat in tropical waters, in what is usually the calmest
period of the year.
"Usually people can survive afloat for two to three
days in Philippine waters," Ensign Jhoe Barbasa, a coastguard
spokeswoman here told a news agency.
"But other factors also play a big role. Hunger,
injuries or ailments, like hypertension, and the weather, can
affect that window," she added.
At daylight the coastguard despatched two patrol craft
laden with divers and medical staff toward the mouth of the
bay, while a surveillance plane was also put aloft to join the
search, Barbasa said.
Forty-six survivors were fished out of the water
yesterday, along with four corpses.