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Basilan ferry fire death toll cut to 28

The Basilan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) on Friday lowered the death toll in the Basilan ferry fire to 28.

Interviewed over dzBB’s Super Radyo, Basilan PDRRMO Head Nixon Alonzo said that the number of bodies authorities recovered inside MV Lady Mary Joy 3 was 17 and not 18 as reported earlier.

Some passengers died of drowning after jumping off the ship while 260 were rescued. Seven passengers remain missing or unaccounted for.

“Nagbago po ‘yung ating data sa mga namatay. Andito kami sa site kasama Bureau of Fire [Protection] at SOCO, inimbestigahan at tiningnan ang lahat ng nasa loob. Napag-alaman na hindi pala 18 ang nakita kahapon, 17 lang daw. Less one tayo sa mga bangkay,” said Alonzo.

(Our data on the death toll was updated. We’re here on the site with the BFP and SOCO, we looked into the bodies and found it was 17 and not 18.)

MV Lady Mary Joy 3 was on its way to Jolo, Sulu from Zamboanga City on March 29 when it caught fire at around 10:40 p.m. The blaze was declared fire out at 7:30 a.m. on March 30.

Mayor Arsina Kahing-Nanoh of Hadji Muhtamad town, where the captain brought the vessel to save the passengers, said the ship’s inaccurate manifest is making it difficult for authorities to conduct search, rescue, and retrieval operations.

Alonzo said the investigation on the cause of the fire had yet to be completed but added that a full report on the incident may be released on Friday or Saturday morning.

He likewise said search and rescue operations on the missing passengers are still ongoing and called on the families of other passengers who may be missing to coordinate with authorities.

“Patuloy tayong nagmamanman sa coastal area lalo dito sa malapit sa periphery ng island na kung saan sumadsad ang barko. Ine-expect natin na baka mayroon pang lumutang doon sa mga allegedly na missing. Hopefully wala na. Nawala lang sila along the way,” he said.

(We’re still searching around the coastal area, especially on the island of Hadji Muhtamad where the ship went aground. We expect that more missing passengers will be found.)

“Panawagan din natin sa mga kamag-anak na may nakasakay sa barko na tingin nila nawawala or di pa na-account, pwede silang pumunta dito sa Basilan,” he added.

(We also appeal to the kin of the passengers that if they think their relative is missing, then coordinate with us here in Basian.) —NB, GMA Integrated News