World

Philippine ferry survivor rescued after 30 hours in sea

A woman who drifted for about 30 hours at sea after the Philippine ferry she was travelling in sank was plucked to safety Monday, an air force helicopter official said in Manila.
Passengers hang on to the rear, or stern, port side of the listing Superferry 9 off Zamboanga del Norte province, in the southern Philippines, on Sunday. ((Philippine navy/Associated Press))

A woman who drifted for about 30 hours at sea after the Philippine ferry she was travelling in sank was plucked to safety Monday, an air force helicopter official said in Manila.

Rear Admiral Alex Pama called the rescue of housewife Lita Casumlum, 39, "a miracle."

She was found bobbing with a life jacket about 13 kilometres from where the Superferry 9 sank Sunday off southern Zamboanga del Norte province after listing for about six hours.

Nearly 1,000 other passengers were rescued, including Canadian tourist Jeffrey Predchuz. Pama said a massive air, land and sea search will continue for one remaining missing passenger. 

The ship began to severely list shortly before dawn, jolting passengers out of their sleep. Predchuz, 47, said there was no warning of any trouble.

The captain, who was among the survivors, ordered passengers to abandon ship as the vessel turned on its side. Most of the nearly 1,000 people who were on board made it to safety, but officials said at least nine people are dead and more than 30 were initially missing.

Rescuers transferred 926 of 968 passengers and crew members to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

Some people panicked and leaped into the dark sea as the 6,600-tonne ferry tipped, a witness said.

The cause of the sinking was not clear. There were reports the vessel listed to starboard because of a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Co-ordinating Council said.

The coast guard says it has deployed a special containment ship for any possible oil spill from the vessel.

With files from The Associated Press