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OVERLOADED WOODEN FERRY CAPSIZES IN PHILIPPINES; 32 REPORTED DEAD.

Byline: Associated Press

An overloaded wooden ferry capsized when strong waves caused it to sway, and panicked passengers ran to one side, officials said Monday. At least 32 people were confirmed dead.

The Coast Guard said 126 people, many of them children, had been rescued and 14 more were missing.

At least 21 of the dead were children.

The ferry was approaching Cadiz, 300 miles southeast of Manila, from Bantayan Island in Cebu province when the accident occurred Sunday evening, the Coast Guard said.

Last week the ferry was declared unseaworthy and ordered out of service by the Maritime Industry Authority, Coast Guard official Edmund Tan said. It was not clear whether it had received permission to resume operations.

Norberto Nepange, captain of the ferry, ML Gretchen I, said the boat was battered by strong winds as it was waiting several hundred yards outside the port in tide not yet high enough for docking.

Many of the passengers panicked when the boat swayed, and they ran to one side of the ferry, which then capsized, Nepange said.

More than 170 people were aboard the boat, although just 59 were listed on the manifest, officials said. The craft had official capacity for only 100.

Debris floated all over the accident site. "Only the frame of the boat was intact," Tan said.

Overloading often accounts for the high casualties in sea accidents in the Philippines.

Dozens of people were killed Dec. 13 when the overloaded MV Kimelody Cristy caught fire off Fortune Island, 50 miles southwest of Manila.

In October 1988, about 500 people died or were listed as missing when the ferry Marilyn sank during a storm in the central Philippines.

The Philippines was the site of the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster: A collision between the ship Dona Paz and a tanker in 1987 killed 4,341 people.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Feb 19, 1996
Words:308
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