Military, Coast Guard divers join rescue in Cebu ship collision tragedy

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MANILA, 17Aug2013 (PNA) – Divers from the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Central Command and the Coast Guard are now aiding rescuers looking for survivors in the aftermath of the collision between two ships off the coast of Talisay City, Cebu Friday night.

At least 17 people were reported killed in the maritime mishap.

Lt. Jim Alagao, AFP Central Command spokesperson, said that their divers and those of the Coast Guard are now helping in the ongoing search-and-rescue efforts.

He added that around 321 passengers are still missing and unaccounted for.

Coast Guard officials identified the two ships involved in the collision as the passenger vessel M/V St. Thomas Aquinas of 2GO and the cargo ship Sulpicio Express 7.

The collision occurred at Lawis Ledge off Talisay City at around 8:45 p.m. Friday.

Hundreds of passengers of the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas had to jump into the water as the ship began to sink.

A total of 692 passengers and crew members were reportedly on board the vessel.

Authorities said 575 passengers have been rescued, as of 12:35 a.m. Saturday.

The survivors were brought to different hospitals in Talisay City and Cebu City for treatment.

The M/V St. Thomas Aquinas came from Agusan Del Norte and was headed for Manila via Cebu.

PCG officials are still investigating the cause of the head-on collision, the first ever in Cebu in recent years. (PNA)

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