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Boy, 5, Plucked From Sea 36 Hours After Disaster

December 22, 1987|Times Wire Services

MANILA — A 5-year-old boy was found alive today, clinging to a piece of timber 36 hours after the fiery collision of an oil tanker and a passenger ship carrying more than 1,500 people, radio operators said.

Searchers also found 21 bodies.

Antonio Babijes, director of the government Rescue Coordination Center, said a radio operator reported fishermen found the boy clinging to the timber along the shore at the village of Tinamalayan, about 10 miles from the scene of the Sunday night wreck.

A radio operator said the boy told rescuers his father placed him on the scrap of timber before vanishing in the blazing seas.

He is the 27th known survivor of the collision between the 2,215-ton passenger ferry Dona Paz and the 692-ton tanker Victor, possibly the worst peacetime maritime disaster of the century.

Twenty-six survivors, including 24 passengers and two tanker crewmen, were saved Sunday night by a passing ferry.

'In Serious Condition'

"They rushed (the boy) to the hospital there in Mindoro," Babijes said. "He was still alive but in serious condition."

Babijes said he had no knowledge of a report attributed to some survivors by a private radio station, DZRH, that the ship's crewmen had been drinking the night of the collision.

"I suppose it is possible they were celebrating Christmas early, but there is nothing to substantiate these rumors. We don't know," Babijes said.

The Philippine Coast Guard said 21 bodies were recovered today and were being taken ashore by two motorboats.

The Dona Paz' owners said today that the ferry was carrying at least 1,543 people--1,490 adult passengers and 53 crew members--but that the actual number of passengers may never be known.

The coast guard said seven vessels, using frogmen, resumed the search today but reported finding no debris or bodies at the immediate crash site.

The bodies found today were recovered from beaches on Mindoro island near the collision scene. Danny Soriano, radio operator for the provincial governor's office of Oriental Mindoro province, said one body found today was that of a woman in her early 20s, but the others were too badly decomposed to determine their sex.

No Tickets for Children

Tickets were not required for scores of small children and infants traveling on the ship so their names were not on the manifest, explained Bernie Cabigon, branch manager for the Sulpicio Shipping Lines.

In another development, President Corazon Aquino, in her first public statement on the accident, today called the accident a "national tragedy of harrowing proportion."

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