Reports are coming in out of the Philippines over a ship collision. Apparently, a ferry carrying more than 700 people aboard collided with a cargo ship and sank near the city of Cebu. Current reports indicate that at least 17 people are dead, with more than 690 people are rescued. Almost all people are accounted for, while some remain hospitalized, and discrepancies between the ship's manifest and the actual people on board mean that some people may still be in the water. The state of the cargo ship and her crew remains unknown at this time.
The ferry, the MV Thomas Aquinas (likely named after the famous theologian), was traveling to the central city of Cebu, and was in fact entering its port to dock at the time of the collision. The ferry was coming from Nasipit, a city in the province of Agusan del Norte on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, and had traveled all day to reach the destination. As it was entering port, the cargo ship, which was leaving the port, hit the ship, likely head-on. Passengers jumped in front of the vessels in response.
In response, the ferry began to list and sink, but crew members were able to quickly give life jackets to passengers, which will likely keep the death count low. That the ferry was also so close to the port may have minimized casualties, for a number of Filipino coast guard ships were nearby and moved quickly to rescue survivors.
The accident represents a common issue in Filipino life. Ferries remain the primary source of transit for most Filipinos, especially going from island to island. These rides are accident-prone, due to the stormy nature of the seas surrounding the islands, and the poor shape of the boats. A similar collision between a fuel tanker and the ferry Doña Paz north of Cebu in 1987 resulted in the worst peacetime maritime disaster in history, killing more than 4,000 people.