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Typhoon death toll reaches 163 in Philippines

Mon., June 23, 2008

MANILA, Philippines – A group of 28 ferry passengers and crew washed ashore after drifting at sea for more than a day when a typhoon capsized their ship and left most of the hundreds aboard missing and presumed dead, officials said today.

Manila’s DZBB radio said the survivors, 20 men, four women and four crewmen, drifted at sea more than 24 hours wearing their lifejackets, reaching Mulanay township in eastern Quezon province late Sunday. Coast guard chief Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo announced early today they had been found, raising the total number of survivors to 38. All were discovered after making it to land.

Tamayo said rescuers may have to bore a hole in the ship to allow divers access to the area where many aboard the ferry were believed to have been trapped.

Coast guard frogmen who managed to get to the stricken ship got no response when they rapped on the hull with metal instruments, then had to give up late Sunday because of strong waves. The ship carried more than 740 passengers and crew.

Rescuers hoped to get inside with U.S. assistance requested by the Philippine Red Cross. Typhoon Fengshen has killed at least 163 people across the sprawling archipelago, setting off landslides and floods, and knocking out electricity.


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