MANILA, Philippines-Death toll of the collision between a roro passenger vessel M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas and cargo vessel Sulcon Express 7 (formerly Sulpicio Lines) on Friday evening in the vicinity of Lawis Ledge , Talisay, Cebu city has reached 40 as of 5:50 p.m. Saturday, according to a report from the Philippine Red Cross monitoring the accident.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council has also reported 171 missing persons.
The agency has raised it alert status to Blue by 3 p.m. which means that 50 percent of its men must be at their posts any time and “for continuous monitoring of the situation and coordination with concerned Office of the Civil Defense Regional Center and member-agencies.”
The Philippine Coast Guard said that 629 passengers were rescued.
A bad weather condition however hampered its search and rescue operations later on Saturday afternoon.
In an official statement from 2GO, owner of M/V Saint Thomas Aquinas, the company claimed their ship has 723 total passengers and 118 crew, totaling to 841 and a 104 equivalent 20 footer container units. They added the vessel “has an authorized capacity of 1,010 passengers and crew and 160 units 20 footer container.”
The company also dispatched two of its own fast crafts and passenger ship M/V St. John Paul to help on the rescue and relief efforts.
NDRRMC said all 38 crews from Sulpicio Lines are all alive.
Both captains of the ill-fated ships also survived.
Rescued passengers are now confined in various hospitals in Cebu, like in Capitol City Medical Center, Chung Hua Hospital, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Perpetual Hospital, Cebu Doctors Hospital, and in an emergency center in Pier 4 Passenger Terminal.
St. Thomas was bound for Manila from the port of Surigao and Nasipit. It was estimated to reach Cebu port by 10 p.m. on Friday for a stopover.
Following the Cebu vessel mishap , the Maritime Industry Authority issued an order on Saturday grounding all the ships of Sulpicio Lines and 2G0 Shipping Lines.