Five casualties in Quezon sunken vessel

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 22) — The number of dead in a pre-Christmas vessel sinking off the coast of Quezon province rose to five on Friday, officials said.

The Philippine Coast Guard said there were now five dead and 252 survivors from the MV Mercraft 3, which sank before noon between Dinahican, Quezon province and Polillo Island.

The number of survivors is up from the 218 counted the day before, it added. The Coast Guard reported that there were 257 onboard.

Of the survivors, 230 were brought to Dinahican. Another 22 were in Real, including four in Barangay Pandan. The count, released on Thursday evening by the Polillo local government, collated information from the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Offices of Polillo, Infanta, Nakar, and Real.

Among the rescued passengers is an Australian national identified as Roland Kempt, 61, who lives in Laguna with his wife. Kempt was among those transferred at Claro M. Recto Memorial District Hospital in Infanta, the Coast Guard said.

The new count includes crew from the sunken MV Mercraft 3. The vessel sank just before noon between Dinahican and Polillo Island.

Related: Four dead as vessel sinks off Quezon - Coast Guard

Some passengers suspected the ship was overloaded, a survivor said. However, the Coast Guard said the MV Mercraft was carrying 30 people less than its capacity.

Passengers from a neighboring craft managed to capture videos of the sinking ship. One of the passengers, Mee-Jhay Ranza, told CNN Philippines their ship called for rescue but was unable to approach and pull people from the Mercraft 3 out of the water, because their ship was also full.



The Coast Guard Southern Tagalog District and Armed Forces Southern Luzon Command in Lucena, Quezon coordinated to deploy Navy assets on Thursday. The Coast Guard also said in it would conduct aerial surveillance of the area.

After rescue operations the Coast Guard would "immediately conduct investigations to identify the cause of the incident and to verify possible oil spills."

CNN Philippines senior researcher Ella Hermonio and multi-platform writer Regine Cabato contributed to this report.