A maritime disaster is unfolding in the Philippines after the passenger ferry MV Thomas Aquinas sank after colliding with a large cargo ship, the MV Sulpicio Express, near the port of Cebu.
The ferry was carrying 752 passengers, including children and infants, and 118 crew members.
More than 200 people are missing after passengers were forced to jump into the water. Some managed to get into life rafts but many others were trapped into the ferry as it sank. Divers are combing through the sunken ferry, which rests at around 100 feet underwater, to retrieve the bodies of the missing. 629 people were rescued.
BBC News reports that maritime accidents are common in the Philippine waters because of badly maintained passenger vessels and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
The world’s worst maritime disaster occurred in the Philippines in December 1987 when more than 4,000 people died after the Dona Paz ferry collided with a tanker and sank.
Photo Credit: Reuters (top) / Reuters (bottom)