At least 70 dead from capsized ferry

09:57, 26 June 2008
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Seventy people have been confirmed dead

Seventy people have been confirmed dead and more than 700 remain missing more than four days after a ferry capsized in a typhoon off the coast of the Philippines, the country`s defense minister said Wednesday according to CNN.

Forty-eight survivors have been found washed ashore in different places around Sibuyan Island, where the ferry was toppled by Typhoon Fengshen early Saturday morning, said Gilberto Teodoro, who oversees Philippine disaster response and was in Washington coordinating with the U.S. government.

In all, 866 people were aboard the Princess of the Stars -- 725 passengers and 141 crew members -- Teodoro said.

"Our heart beats out and our prayers go to the victims and to the families of the victims," Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who also was in Washington, said Wednesday.

The U.S. military has sent naval craft from Okinawa and Hawaii to assist the Philippines in relief and search-and-rescue efforts. The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was in the area Wednesday in support of relief efforts.

A total of 315 people have been confirmed dead in connection with the typhoon, Teodoro said.

Arroyo said her government is "holding the ferry company accountable" and will be investigating how the capsizing happened.

"We have to find out how we can avoid such a tragedy from happening again," she said.

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