Search and rescue ops for missing Maharlika 2 passengers called off; retrieval on

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/16 September) — From search and rescue, authorities have shifted to retrieval operations for the still unaccounted passengers of the ill-fated MV Maharlika 2 since Monday evening.

Capt. Joseph Coyme, deputy district commander of the Philippine Coast Guard in Northern Mindanao, told reporters they were still looking for some more passengers of the ferry that sank off Southern Leyte on Saturday.

Coyme said only one passenger remained missing based on the manifest but that there were others whose names were not listed.

MV Maharlika 2 sailed at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday despite the weather condition, carrying at least 58 passengers, 23 crew members and 13 rolling cargoes based on the manifest.

But as of Tuesday, 110 crew members and passengers had been accounted. Eight bodies have been retrieved so far while other passengers were still missing.

Coyme said three patrol boats of the Philippine Navy, a Coast Guard rescue boat and a helicopter of the Philippine Air Force were looking for the missing passengers.

Atty. Manuel Coro, designate officer of the Surigao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said their rescue team was assisting in the search operations.

The office has been also assisting survivors and relatives of the victims at Lipata Port where its command center is located.

Jessa Saberon, 57, of San Pedro Laguna, a survivor, had not left the port since her husband, Felizardo, 61, had not been found. Her two-year old granddaughter, Tiffany, was found lifeless yesterday afternoon along with four other passengers.

Saberon believed their names were not on the manifest because they were not asked to write their names on it.

She said they took a Philtranco bus from Montevista, Compostela Valley where they spent a short vacation with their children who are living there. They were supposed to arrive on Monday in Manila.

She said they opted to travel by bus since it’s the cheapest way to get to Luzon. (Roel N. Catoto/MindaNews)