US Divers Join in Search Efforts for Sunken Philippine Ferry VictimsBy VOA News
25 June 2008

US Navy diver jumps into the water beside the sunken Philippine ferry 'Princess of the Stars' off Sibuyan island, 25 Jun 2008Divers from the U.S. Navy are joining their Philippine counterparts Wednesday, in the search for more victims inside a passenger ferry that capsized during the onslaught of Typhoon Fengshen.

More than 800 passengers and crew were on board the "Princess of the Stars" when it sank off the central island of Sibuyan. Philippine coast guard and naval officials say divers have found the bodies of 15 people floating in one section of the ship, many without life jackets.

About 50 more bodies have been discovered floating several kilometers away from the wreckage.

U.S. President George Bush pledged American help with the rescue effort during a meeting Tuesday with Philippine President Gloria Arroyo at the White House.

The Philippine coast guard says more than 40 people from the ferry have turned up alive.

Philippine transportation authorities have banned the ship's owner, Sulpicio Lines, from operating while they conduct an investigation.

Sulpicio is one of the largest ferry operators in the Philippines and it has been involved in three other disasters. In 1987, its Dona Paz ferry collided with a tanker, and more than four thousand people died.

Meanwhile, Fengshen made landfall on southern China as a tropical storm Wednesday. The region has been plagued by torrential rainstorms, and flooding this month has killed scores of people and forced the evacuation of nearly two million residents.

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