Death toll in boat sinking in Philippines now 46; eight missing

December 18th, 2008 - 2:47 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Dec 18 (DPA) The death toll in the sinking of a passenger vessel off the northern Philippines has risen to 46 while eight people remained missing, the coast guard and police said Thursday.Forty-five people survived the accident Sunday off the coast of Ballesteros town in Cagayan province, 420 km north of Manila.

The MB Maejan was already near the dock of nearby Aparri town when it capsized as huge waves battered it and strong currents dragged it away.

The coast guard said search operations for the eight missing were continuing despite bad weather.

Local police said one more body was recovered off the coast of nearby Sanchez Mira town, bringing the death toll to 46.

The coast guard said the wooden-hulled boat was overloaded as it was ferrying nearly 100 people when it was only allowed to carry 50 people.

There were also cargoes of pigs, cows and water buffaloes on the ship.

Sea travel is a major mode of transportation in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.

In June, a passenger ferry carrying more than 800 people sank in storm-whipped seas off the nearby island of Romblon. Only 56 people survived in one of the worst maritime accidents in the Philippines.

The country was the site of the world’s worst peacetime shipping disaster in 1987 when more than 4,000 people perished in a collision between a ferry and an oil tanker just before Christmas.

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