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Philippines Pres Demands Explanations Over Sinking

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo demands explanation why vessel was allowed to leave port despite storm

Washington, June 23 - Press Secretary Jesus Dureza said last night President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was "very concerned" over the fate of the victims of the sinking of the "MV Princess of the Stars."

The ill-fated vessel capsized off Sibuyan Island at the height of "Typhoon" Frank last Saturday.

At a press briefing at the lobby of the Willard Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue here, Dureza said the President is closely monitoring the progress of the rescue operations conducted by the Navy.

An undetermined number of passengers were believed trapped inside the vessel.

"She is very concerned," Dureza said, referring to the President. "And she wants to know why the vessel was allowed to leave port despite the storm," he added.

The President arrived here shortly before midnight Sunday from Fresno, California on the second leg of her seven-day working visit to the US for a series of meetings with US officials, business leaders and members of the Filipino community.

Immediately upon arrival at the Willard Hotel, her official residence while in Washington, the President called a meeting with members of her Cabinet accompanying her to the US to assess the latest developments in the typhoon-stricken areas in the Philippines.

She is particularly concern of the ongoing rescue operations for survivors of the worst sea tragedy in the country for over two decades.

Dureza said the President wanted an immediate explanation from the Coast Guard and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) about the tragedy.

He also said the President was informed by DOTC Secretary Leandro Mendoza of the grounding of all Sulpicio Line vessels pending the completion of the investigation of the disaster.

ENDS

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