(UPDATE) 121 safe as ferry capsizes off Surigao: Coast Guard


Posted at Jul 28 2009 08:39 PM | Updated as of Jul 29 2009 09:29 PM

SURIGAO/TACLOBAN - A ferry capsized in rough seas off an island in Southern Leyte province on Tuesday, but all 121 people aboard were rescued, the Coast Guard said.

Panaon Island

View Panaon Island and surrounding areas in a larger map

The M/V Ocean King tipped over onto its right side near the southern tip of Panaon island, Chief Petty Officer Manolito Dacel of the Coast Guard station in Southern Leyte told the AFP by telephone.

The ferry was carrying passengers, cargo and vehicles from Lipata town in Surigao del Norte to Liloan town Southern Leyte.

The ferry left Lipata at around noon, and at 3 p.m., near Balong-Balong Point in Barangay Binit, San Ricardo, Southern Leyte, the starboard side of the boat's steering room was slowly filling with water, causing it to tip to the side.

Capt. Zalde Angot reportedly decided to proceed to the San Ricardo Wharf due to the emergency, but the boat became stranded on shore.

"All of them are wet after M/V Ocean King sank about 80 percent at the starboard side. Luckily the ship's captain managed to maneuver towards the shore as the boat slowly submerged due to huge and strong waves," Dacel said.

Small ferries are the backbone of inter-island travel in this archipelagic country, and accidents -- many leading to loss of life -- are not uncommon. With reports from the Agence France-Presse and ABS-CBN Tacloban