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34 on Philippine sunken ferry rescued
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The past weekend marked one of the darkest dates in the Philippines' natural disaster-battering history, with reports of floods, landslides, flooded streets and a sunken ship with over 700 passengers on board.

A relative of a ferry passenger cries as she awaits the latest news inside the office of Sulpicio Lines in the port area of Cebu city, central Philippines June 22, 2008. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

At least 34 passengers on the sunken Philippine ferry "MV Princess of the Stars" have been able to reach shore to be rescued by Monday as the coastal guard rescue team, with the help of the navy, continued their difficult search on the sea.

In a terse report released Monday afternoon, the Philippine Coast Guard said they were able to confirm 30 more surviving passengers after four survivors swam shore on Sunday. Two were found on Romblon province while twenty-eight others had been rescued in Quezon province, north of the mishap area off the Romblon coast.

Superintendent Eduardo Somera of Quezon Provincial Police Office told Xinhua that the survivors were on rubber boats and they were rescued late Sunday after landing on Quezon coast some 24 hours after they abandoned the sinking ship.

Somera said the survivors were sent to local hospitals and are scheduled to be transport to provincial medical center late Monday.

Quezon disaster relief officials said among the survivors are 25 males and 3 females, whose ages are still unknown. All survivors are believed to be adults.

Officials told Xinhua they also recovered a unidentified male body washed ashore with the group of survivors.

The 23,000-ton ship of the Sulpicio Lines, carrying nearly 800 people on board, met rough weather at sea on Saturday noon and sank on Sunday. Four survivors were rescued on Sunday.

Meanwhile, local media reported that one survivor and more than a dozen dead bodies were found in a town of the neighboring province of Masbate.

National on-line news network INQUIRER.Net reported that the dead bodies were found in seven villages of Claveria town. Town mayor Eduardo Andueza said the survivor, who remembered reaching the shore Sunday night, slept on the sand without food and shelter.

"He was immediately brought to the hospital," Andueza said, adding that there might be five others from the boat who were still missing.

Five corpses have been recovered on the coastlines of Quezon province by rescuers.

Philippine navy, along with national coastal guard rescue team, on the other hand, reported that there are "no signs of life" around the capsized passenger ferry.

"We approached the ship. We knocked on it (the hull) in order to give us a sign if ever somebody is inside, hoping someone would knock (from the inside). Unfortunately, there was none," Lieutenant Colonel Edgard Arevalo, spokesman for the navy, told reporters.

Two Navy patrol gunboats, a patrol ship, two helicopters, and a Navy Islander plane have been deployed to the site of the capsized ship, to augment Coast Guard vessels, reports said.

A US Navy ship was also on its way from Okinawa, Japan to help in the search and rescue efforts.

(Xinhua News Agency June 23, 2008)
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