Rescuers Find Only 15 of Hundreds on Ship Sunk by Typhoon
MANILA, Philippines (AP) _ Rescuers said Tuesday they had found only 15 survivors from a ship with more than 500 people aboard that was sent to the bottom by Typhoon Ruby’s 140 mph winds.
Ruby flattened thousands of houses and took at least 100 lives on shore, leaving dozens of other people missing. More than 100,000 Filipinos were made homeless by the typhoon.
As of 4 a.m. Wednesday (4 p.m. EDT Tuesday), the typhoon was centered near latitude 16.3 north, longitude 117.5 east, in the South China Sea about 190 miles west of the Philippines coastal city of Dagupan. The government weather service said Ruby’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to 93 mph and that the typhoon was moving west-northwest at about 4 mph.
A coast guard cutter was dispatched early Wednesday to port of Cebu, 100 miles from where the Dona Marilyn went down, to search for missing passengers.
That would bring to three the number of major vessels searching for survivors of the Dona Marilyn, a 2,845-ton passenger liner that replaced the Dona Paz on the Sulpicio Lines run between Manila and Tacloban.
The Dona Paz sank Dec. 20, 1987, after a collision off Mindoro Island with a tanker, and only 26 people were rescued. The official death toll was 1,749, but some estimates said 3,000 died because many deck passengers making the holiday trip to Manila were not on the manifest.
In suburban Manila, U.S. and Philippine helicopters rescued hundreds of people stranded on rooftops and in trees by the flooding Marikina River.
Coast Guard officials said the Dona Marilyn sank Monday in the Visayas Sea about 300 miles southeast of Manila while it was making the Manila-Tacloban run. It was carrying 451 passengers and 60 crew members from Manila to Tacloban on Leyte Island when it radioed a distress call, said Carlos Go, general manager of Sulpicio Lines.
Lt. Rey Esguerra of the coast guard station in Cebu said rescuers had found 11 survivors on Maripipi Island and another small island, and four people were found alive in the water.
Vicente Gambito, vice president of Sulpicio, put the number rescued at 18. There was no explanation for the discrepancy.
The Dona Marilyn was authorized to carry about 1,400 passengers and crew.
Officials reported 25 people missing because of Typhoon Ruby at Cagayan de Oro, a coastal city on Mindanao Island, and 15 unaccounted for after a crowded bus plunged into a swollen river Monday in Antique province. The Red Cross said 26 bodies were recovered from the bus.
Floods on Luzon and other islands caused landslides and washed away bridges.
Carlos Dominguez, the agriculture secretary, said preliminary estimates put damage to crops at nearly $46 million, but casualty and damage reports were incomplete because of poor communications.
Figures compiled from the Red Cross and government agencies showed 26 dead in Antique province, 20 in Occidental Mindoro, 15 in Zamboanga del Sur, 11 in Cagayan de Oro, 11 in Manila’s Marikina suburb, six on Camiguin Island, four in Iloilo, three in Nueva Ecija, two in Surigao City and one each in Pampanga and Bulacan.
Ruby’s center passed about 50 miles east of Manila early Tuesday and swept into the Tarlac, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija provinces, the archipelago’s main rice-growing region, the national weather service reported.
Meteorologists said more than nine inches of rain fell in 24 hours at the Manila airport. Domestic flights were canceled but international service continued.
President Corazon Aquino visited flooded Marikina, the hardest-hit district in the Manila area, on Tuesday and met with some of the thousands who fled their homes.
Two American helicopters from Clark Air Base joined Filipino soldiers and civilian volunteers in rescuing stranded people.
A Philippine navy landing craft and a hospital vessel capsized in heavy seas Monday at Zamboangak, but no casualties were reported. A tugboat owned by the state-run Philippine National Oil Company sank off the Bataan Peninsula, also with no casualties.
Schools, government offices, the two stock exchanges and many private businesses in Manila were closed Tuesday and the government said schools would not open Wednesday because of widespread flooding and power outages. Some schools were being used as evacuation centers.
At least 110,000 of the nation’s 56 million people were left homeless, officials reported. The government said 400,000 people were ″affected,″ meaning their homes were damaged or destroyed.
Maj. Wayne Crist, a spokesman at Clark, 50 miles north of Manila, reported no major structural damage there, but said some aircraft were evacuated to an undisclosed ″safe location.″
Typhoon Ruby was the 18th typhoon or tropical storm to strike the Philippines this year and the strongest on Luzon since Patsy killed at least 175 people in 1970.