171 still missing as search is suspended in Philippine ferry disaster
CEBU (AFP) - Stormy weather forced Philippine rescuers to suspend a search on Saturday for 171 people missing after a crowded ferry collided with a cargo ship and quickly sank, with 31 others confirmed dead.
The St Thomas Aquinas ferry was carrying 831 passengers and crew when the vessels smashed into each other late on Friday night in a dangerous choke point near the port of Cebu, the Philippines' second-biggest city, the authorities said.
Coast guard and military vessels, as well as local fishermen in their own small boats, frantically worked through the night and on Saturday morning to haul 629 people out of the water alive.
But when bad weather whipped up the ocean mid-afternoon on Saturday, the authorities suspended the search, with 171 people still unaccounted for.