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Sunken fishing vessel death toll rises to 7

BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN

Philippine Coast Guard divers conducting search and retrieval operations at the wreckage site.* PCG photo

Divers of the Philippine Coast Guard have already recovered three more cadavers of nine missing fishermen at the site where a commercial fishing vessel, sank off the coast of Iloilo on September 24.

This brought to seven out of nine missing fishermen already accounted for by the Coast Guard, since September 25.

The cadavers of Victor Calvo, Julito Salvo and Hermenio Ronamo were recovered on September 26 by Coast Guard divers, inside the ill-fated F/V St. Peter the Fisherman II which capsized between the territorial waters of Gigantes Island in Carles, Iloilo and Tanguingui Island of Cebu.

A day earlier, the cadavers of Norberto Parlotzo and Rommel Engle were recovered by a group of divers from Bantayan Island at the site of the wreckage.

The PCG report the recovery of the cadavers of two more missing fishermen from the site yesterday.

They were identified as Renante Forsuelo and boat captain Frankie Chavez.

The search and retrieval operations of PCG- Western Visayas District for two remaining fishermen are still ongoing as of press time.

Forsuelo, Calvo, Engle, Chavez and Salvo, are all residents of Negros Occidental.

Of the 31 crew members, 22 survived the ordeal.

Visibility at the wreckage site is noted to be almost zero, and divers had to navigate the “claustrophobic” passageways of the sunken F/V St. Peter the Fisherman II, according to the Coast Guard.

 The divers also had to deal with the presence of Jellyfish as they work their way up and down the wreck which lies almost 145 feet underwater.

Despite the difficulties encountered by the team, the PCG in Negros Occidental said they are doing everything they can in order to locate and retrieve the bodies, and bring them back to their loved ones.

Captain Ludovico Librilla, Coast Guard District Western Visayas (CGDWV) Deputy Commander, the PCG is set to begin a marine casualty investigation to determine the cause of the sinking.*

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