Death toll after multiple boats sink in Iloilo-Guimaras Strait now tops 30

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Iloilo-Guimaras Strait
Search and rescue operations are continuing in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait. Photograph courtesy of the Philippine Red Cross.

The death toll after multiple boats capsized amid wild weather in the Iloilo-Guimaras Strait has now topped 31, as rescue attempts continue.

The Philippine Coast Guard has reported that rescuers retrieved 19 more bodies today (Sunday, August 4), after the separate sinking of M/B Chi-chi, M/B Keziah 2 and M/B Jenny Vince.

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“Many of the dead bodies have yet to be identified. They did not have identification when they were recovered,” PCG Western Visayas district commander Commodore Allan dela Vega said.

Dela Vega also said it was “squalls” — or sudden strong gusts of wind at sea — that sunk the passenger boats. He also said the vessels set off during “good weather conditions” yesterday morning.

The PCG has ruled out any collisions or overloading of passengers as contributing to the tragedy.

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All five crew members of M/B Keziah 2 survived. On the M/B Chi-chi, 37 survived, 11 died and one remains missing. On the M/B Jenny Vince, 22 survived, 20 died and two are still missing.

As we reported yesterday, the first two motorboats sank at about noon en route to Guimaras from Iloilo City, while M/B Jenny Vince went down at 3.30pm.

“We want due diligence. We want to get all the names of the passengers,” said Dela Vega. “Their names should be in the manifest. That is the only document that can identify them.”

Jose Roberto Nuñez, director of the Office of Civil Defense Western Visayas, has asked the Philippine Navy to send a vessel to help search for the remaining missing persons.

Mayor Jerry Treñas of Iloilo City and Mayor Eugene Reyes of Buenavista have ordered the total suspension of sea trips on Iloilo-Guimaras Strait.

The transfer of retrieved bodies to Iloilo City is now being facilitated in coordination with the Department of Health.

An information desk has been set up to assist families still looking for relatives and for identification of the dead. 

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