At least three people died, three are missing and 110 were rescued after a ferry sank off the Philippines’ central coast, the coast guard said, clarifying an earlier report that the vessel carried 84 passengers and crew.
The MV Maharlika-2, which capsized between Surigao in Mindanao and Southern Leyte in the Visayas, was carrying 116 people, Coast Guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo said by phone. The ferry’s captain said in a distress call that it carried 58 passengers, 26 crew and 13 rolling cargoes, the Associated Press reported, citing Coast Guard Captain Joseph Coyme. Those figures were given in a 2 a.m. report on the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council website.
The vessel can carry about 400 people so it wasn’t overloaded, Balilo said. Search and rescue operations are continuing for the three who are missing, he said. The ferry sank as Typhoon Luis, with maximum winds of 130 kilometers (about 80 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 160 kilometers per hour, is expected to make landfall in Cagayan-Isabela north of Manila this evening, according to a an 11 a.m. bulletin.
The Philippines, battered by an average of 20 cyclones yearly that form over the Pacific Ocean, is the most at-risk nation globally from tropical storms after Japan, according to research company Maplecroft. Super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever to hit land and the equivalent of a Category 5 hurricane, killed more than 6,200 people in the Philippines in November and left more than a thousand missing.
Typhoon Rammasun, with maximum winds of 150 kilometers per hour and gusts of 170 kilometers per hour, hit the Philippine capital and nearby provinces in July, killing at least 97 people and halting air and sea travel. Haiyan packed maximum winds of 315 kilometers per hour.
The provinces of Cagayan, Isabela, Kalinga, Mt Province, Ilocos Sur, Quirino and Northern Aurora are under the second- highest alert in a four-scale warning system due to Typhoon Luis, according to the risk agency report. Under Signal No. 3, the storm could bring winds of up to 185 kilometers per hour over a period of at least 18 hours.
At least 24 flights have been canceled and 212 people were stranded in ports as of yesterday, according to an 8 p.m. risk agency report. Coastal areas in northern Luzon are alerted for possible flooding, landslides and storm surges. The rest of Luzon, including Metro Manila, may also experience rains, it said.
Based on initial reports, the capsized ferry was unable to steer when it encountered rough seas, prompting it to list, Navy Lieutenant Jim Aris Alagao said. There are no storm signals affecting the route of MV Maharlika-2 so it was allowed to sail, Balilo said.
Philippines sea tragedies often happen during storms or caused by collisions. In June 2008, M/V Princess of the Stars killed more than 800 people as typhoon Fengshen lashed the central Philippines. M/V Dona Paz, which collided with an oil tanker and sank in December 1987, killed more than 4,000 people in the world’s worst peacetime shipping tragedy. A year ago, at least 55 died when a passenger ferry and a cargo ship collided.