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700+ Missing As Typhoon Capsizes Philippines Ferry

By Douglas Bakshian
Manila
22 June 2008

Over 700 Missing as Typhoon Fengshen Capsizes Ferry in Philippines

More than 700 people are missing after a ferry capsized during typhoon Fengshen in the central Philippines. In addition, dozens of lives have been lost in flooding and mudslides on some of the many islands that make up the nation. Douglas Bakshian reports from Manila.

The Philippine coast guard found the ferry, MV Princess of Stars, Sunday off the coast of the central island of Sibuyan. It was capsized with only the rear part of the keel sticking out of the water. A few survivors have been found on the island. Several bodies also washed up there and villagers said many children's slippers, thought to be from the ship, were washed ashore.

Search and rescue operations continue but high seas are making things difficult. Divers are checking the wreck. The ferry, carrying more than 700 passengers and crew, left Manila Friday heading for the central island of Cebu. However, it ran aground Saturday when its engine failed. Radio communication was cut off following the accident.

The typhoon began slamming the cental Philippines hard on Saturday. The central island province of Iloilo was hardest hit and many of the deaths on land occurred there.

The southern island of Mindanao also suffered flooding caused by a separate monsoon that was given strength from the main storm system. The heavy rains and winds knocked out power supplies and flooded roads. Disaster officials say that all together, more than 360-thousand people have been affected by the flooding. Tens of thousands were placed in evacuation shelters until the waters receded.

During the height of the storm, a number of domestic flights were grounded and many ships were kept in harbor because of the rough seas. The capital, Manila, was also blanketed with heavy rains and strong winds, and there were some power outages.

The storm later headed north through Luzon island. At times the typhoon packed sustained winds of up to 140 kilometers per hour with gusts of 170 kilometers. The Philippines is an archipelago of more than seven-thousand islands. It is hit by a number of typhoons and storms each year.

ENDS

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