Four dead, 7 missing leaving ferry sinks
A Philippine inter-island ferry with more than 250 passengers and crew, including Christmas holiday travellers, sank yesterday after being battered by fierce winds and big waves off the country's northeast, leaving at least four people dead and at least seven others missing, officials said.
About 240 were pulled alive, some with injuries, from the rough sea by navy and coast guard personnel and a flotilla of fishing boats after the M/V Mercraft 3 sank in the Polillo Strait between Quezon province's Infanta town and the ferry's destination, Polillo island, officials said.
A survivor, Donel Jade Mendiola, told DZMM radio that bad weather briefly delayed the ferry's departure, but the weather improved and the vessel then left from Quezon's Real town. Strong winds and large waves started to lash it about two hours into the trip, he said.
"The vessel came to a halt and started taking in water in the front side. The passengers dashed to one side and the ferry started to sink," Mendiola said. He said the passengers were instructed to don life vests.
Coast guard boats, navy vessels and fishing boats rescued 240 people, including many who drifted in the rough sea, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said, adding that the 206-ton ferry could carry 286 people and apparently wasn't overcrowded.
Among the survivors taken to a Quezon hospital was a 61-year-old Australian identified by authorities as Roland Kempt, who lives in the Philippines, the coast guard said in a statement.
The dead consisted of two women and two men, Quezon officials said.