17 dead, hundreds rescued after Philippine ships crash
CEBU, Philippines (AFP) - A ferry in the Philippines sank after colliding with a cargo ship on Friday, leaving at least 17 people dead and many others feared missing, while nearly 600 were rescued, authorities said.
The Thomas Aquinas ferry, which was believed to be carrying about 700 passengers, sank within half an hour of the night-time accident near the port of Cebu, the country's second biggest city, coastguard spokesman Commander Armando Balilo said.
A rescue mission involving coastguard, navy and private vessels was launched immediately after the collision, which authorities said occurred between two and three kilometres from shore in calm waters.
"They are using search lights to scan the waters, but still there is a possibility you can miss those floating at sea. Rescuers are trying to get to all of them," Ms Joy Villegas, an official at the coastguard's public affairs office headquarters in Manila, told Agence France-Presse. Within about three hours of the accident, rescuers had saved 573 people but 17 people were confirmed killed, according to Ms Villegas.