Search ops in Cebu continue amid stench of death
CEBU - Thirteen more bodies were retrieved today from the sunken MV St. Thomas Aquinas. Search operations have continued but the stench of the decaying bodies is slowly becoming unbearable.
Based on records, the death toll from the collision between the passenger ship and a cargo ship on Friday has already reached 52, while 68 more are missing.
Survivor Perlyn Vallecera came to the command center in the hope of finding her two children whom she lost after huge waves hit their ship Friday night.
Her three-year-old daughter Maxine and one-year-old son John are still missing.
Local and foreign divers have suited up to help in the retrieval operations. Families have put up pictures of their missing loved ones at the command center.
Lt. Gen. Roy Deveraturda, commanding general of the Central Command, said ground search is on for missing passengers who might have drifted away to an island or remote community. Based on previous search and rescue operations, it is not a remote possibility that survivors can still be found in an island 15-30 days after the incident.
Cebu Gov Hilario Davide III said Interpol has expressed interest in helping Philippine authorities identify some of the unidentified casualties.
Dr Expedito Medalla of the Department of Health in Region 7 said that dead bodies do not pose any threat to people. There was a scare on the consumption of fish in the province due to the sinking of the ship.
He said the fish are safe to eat.
He said the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources is more concerned in testing the contamination level of the marine sources due to the oil spill from the sunken ship.
Lito Salvio, Assistant Vice President for 2GO, operator of MV St Thomas Aquinas, meanwhile admitted the ship that sunk has been involved in an accident sometime before 2011.
He, however, clarified that the accident was just minor in nature. He is unable to provide details since the management only took over two years ago.