18 Aug 2013

Hunt for ferry survivors resumes

4:05 pm on 18 August 2013

Rescuers have resumed looking for 170 people missing in the latest Philippines ferry disaster, after bad weather forced a suspension of the search for survivors.

The ferry sank on Friday after a collision with a cargo vessel just outside the central port of Cebu, killing at least 32 people.

Authorities say only 661 of the 831 passengers and crew on the ferry have been accounted for and they acknowledge that finding survivors is very unlikely.

Many of those missing are believed trapped in the sunken vessel, although searchers say it is possible some of them could survive for 72 hours in air pockets.

Just 17 of the 32 confirmed dead have been identified.

Transportation Secretary Joseph Abaya says a New Zealander is among those taken to hospital.

New Zealand's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade is working to confirm that report.

Heavy rain brought a typhoon and low pressure reduced visibility at sea to almost zero, forcing divers to stop searching for more victims, Reuters reports.

Mr Abayo told a new conference that the number of missing is expected to go down.

"We've got information that some bodies have been recovered and we expect the number of missing to decrease, and we expect the casualties to increase," he said.

Disaster officials say many of the survivors are sick from swallowing oil and seawater.

One of the crew says the ferry sank within 10 minutes.