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Divers recover 113 bodies from wreck of Princess

November 1, 2008 6:23pm

MANILA, Philippines — Divers searching the wreck of the M/V Princess of the Stars, which capsized off Sibuyan Island in Romblon on June 21, have recovered a total of 113 bodies a week since they began retrieval operations, an official said on Saturday.

Dive supervisor Jorge Ponce announced the latest figure as members of the retrieval operations team completed searching the passenger cabins at Deck B of the capsized vessel as of 4 p.m. on Saturday.

"We have combed through almost 90 percent of Deck B that consist of the passengers' cabin, but we still have to search through the crew's accommodation which is 10 percent of their target in Deck B," said Ponce.

Eighteen divers of the salvaging firm Harbor Star were wrapping up their retrieval operations at Deck B after finishing searching through Deck C, the economy section, he said.

Ponce said the low number of bodies found was puzzling considering that 515 people were supposed to be missing. The vessel had 864 passengers and crew on board when it capsized.

Earlier, Harbor Star project manager Rod Bella said that some passengers could have jumped overboard just before the vessel sank

“If the report is true and there were 500 people missing, if they were still on board the ship then we should have found their bodies when we were at Deck C. But the bodies were scarce," Ponce said.

Still, the divers will still be conducting "confirmation dives" in which divers would conduct surveys grid by grid just to make sure that they have covered all the areas, he said.

The 23,000-ton M/V Princess of the Stars was on its way to Cebu from Manila when it capsized off Sibuyan Island on June 21 at the height of typhoon Frank.

Of the ship’s crew and passengers, 33 have survived and more than 200 have been confirmed dead prior to the salvaging operations. - GMANews.TV