Rescuers have found at least 33 survivors and at least six dead among the nearly 750 aboard a ferry that capsized in a typhoon that battered the southern Philippines, a Red Cross official said Monday, according to CNN.
A U.S. Navy ship equipped with helicopters will soon join the search and rescue effort, said Richard Gordon, the head of the Philippines Red Cross and a member of the country`s Senate.
Fishermen found 30 survivors from the ferry Princess of Stars, which rolled over early Saturday morning, Gordon said. One person died after being picked up, and another was lost during rescue efforts, he said, but the remaining 28 have been delivered to police.
Filipino troops have found five more survivors and five dead, Gordon said, bringing the known toll from the accident to six.
"There`s quite a few people out there that are still missing," he said. "We are trying our best to find them, and I hope we could get some help."
The Princess of Stars had 749 passengers and crew aboard when it overturned about a mile off the shore of Sibuyan Island early Saturday as Typhoon Fengshen pummeled the Philippines.
The crew of the vessel, which can hold up to 2,000 people, reported that its engines had failed during a regular run from Manila and Cebu City, according to Vice Adm. Wilfredo Tamayo, the head of the country`s coast guard.
Rescuers knocked on the ferry`s hull Sunday evening in hopes of hearing signs of survivors within the capsized ship, the captain of which had given orders to abandon it before contact was lost.
Many of them were wearing life jackets," Gordon said. "Hopefully we can still find them alive."
The typhoon has killed at least 140 people on land, with at least 255 more reported missing, he said.
The storm had not been expected to hit the Philippines when it first formed last week. But the storm struck the islands Friday with winds of about 140 km/h (90 p.m.) before moving north toward China and Taiwan. A storm warning posted along the ferry`s course would not have required the vessel to cancel its trip, but relatives of the passengers have questioned why the ship was allowed to leave port.
"They should not have let the ship sail because there was a typhoon coming," Isadora Salinas said. "How can they do that? They won`t even give out information about what happened."
Gordon said Sulpicio Lines -- which operates the ferry -- has a history of previous accidents, "and people are pouncing on them right now."
"The mood here is very ugly," he said.