Divers combed through a sunken ferry yesterday in a desperate search for dozens of people missing after a collision with a cargo vessel near the central Philippine port of Cebu.
The collision sent passengers jumping into the ocean and leaving many others trapped. At least 31 were confirmed dead and hundreds rescued.
The captain of the ferry MV Thomas Aquinas ordered the ship abandoned when it began listing and then sank just minutes after collision late Friday with the MV Sulpicio Express Siete, coast guard deputy chief Rear Admiral Luis Tuason said.
Transportation and Communi-cations Secretary Joseph Abaya announced official passenger figures following confusion over the actual number of people on the ferry.
He said the ferry carried 831 people - 715 passengers and 116 crew - fewer than the numbers given earlier by the coast guard and ferry owner, 2Go.
He said the death toll had risen to 31 with 629 rescued.
There were foreigners on board "but they are all OK", except for a New Zealand citizen who was in a hospital, he said.
Cebu coast guard chief, Commander Weniel Azcuna, said 171 were listed as missing, but the figure would go down once the number of crew members who have been rescued are officially accounted.