The search and rescue operation for the sunken cargo vessel M/V Ma. Lourdes has been called off after the 20 crew members on board were already accounted for by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG).
Ninteen survivors were rescued and one dead body was recovered. The fatality was identified as Alex Tambasin, the ship's chief engineer.
The vessel was loaded with 22,000 bags of cement from Iligan city going to San Jose, Romblon when it was battered by big waves, three miles off Bisay island in Caluya, Antique.
Three Coast Guard vessels were immediately sent to conduct search and rescue operations.
One of the rescue vessels was also hit by big waves and suffered minor engine trouble.
The PCG confirmed the loss of contact to BRP Davao del Norte early Wednesday morning, which prompted the army's central command to send air assets in the area.
At about 11 am Wednesday, the BRP Davao del Norte was located at the vicinity of Sibay island, with the 22 personnel on board safe and sound.
They were immediately airlifted to Caticlan Airport in Aklan for medical treatment. -- Nony Basco, ABS-CBN Iloilo