Three of the decomposing bodies were identified as those of Del Carmen (Surigao del Norte) Mayor Arlencita Navarro, 50; Sherlyn Dantes, 16; and Thelma Burdeos, 50. They were found yesterday morning floating within the vicinity of Punta Sili, Hinatuan Island, the site where the ferryboat capsized.
The retrieval of their bodies brought the death toll of the sea accident to 18. Fifteen victims were yet to be recovered as of Friday, according to the City Disaster Coordinating Center of Surigao City.
Earlier, Ryan Ganhinhin, 25, one of the survivors, said that he saw Mayor Navarro sitting beside the pilot but that she failed to come out when the ferry went down. He said the boat suddenly capsized after being hit by huge waves.
Navarro's body was identified by her in-law, Nestor Aviso, through her pair of pearl earrings, gold wrist watch and ring. The mayor was wearing a white blouse and black pants.
Dantes' body was identified through her school identification card.
In the morning of Nov. 30, the body of teacher Geremie Comelon, 22, was also found floating in the same location by crews of M/B Donalyn en route to Surigao City.
Around 100 people including crewmembers were reportedly aboard the ferryboat which also carried 300 bags of cement when it sank off the cost of Surigao City at 2:25 p.m. of Nov. 25. The boat was heading for Del Carmen town.
At least 66 survivors were rescued while 14 dead bodies were recovered the following days. Nineteen other persons were declared missing.
City Mayor Alfonso Casurra, however, yesterday presumed that the other 15 missing persons were already dead.
He said that based on policies governing retrieval operations missing persons would be presumed dead if they would not be found after 3 days.
The mayor said they have temporarily stopped the search operation since they have already identified the exact location where the boat sank.