Ferry Sinks in Philippines Storm; 21 Dead

The Associated Press
Saturday, May 13, 2006; 9:49 PM

MANILA, Philippines -- A small boat sank during a tropical storm in the central Philippines, killing at least 21 people, the coast guard Saturday. Four other people were killed in the storm, while floods submerged 16 villages.

The Mae An capsized off Masbate island Friday after ignoring a warning from authorities for small vessels to avoid sailing as Tropical Storm Chanchu approached the region. Eighteen passengers have been rescued, said coast guard spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Joseph Coyme. Masbate is about 225 miles southeast of the capital, Manila.

Early Saturday, a swollen river broke a dike and submerged four villages under waist-deep water on Mindoro island, 75 miles south of Manila.

Landslides and floods also cut off at least 12 villages late Thursday in Sogod town in Southern Leyte province, affecting some 6,000 residents. In February, a mountainside collapsed in the same region, burying the entire village of Guinsaugon and killing more than 1,000 people.

Elsewhere, a man and his wife were electrocuted Friday when a swaying coconut tree severed an electric line in Manapla town on Negros island, 285 miles south of Manila. Four fishermen were reported missing off Luzon, the civil defense office said Saturday.

It also reported a fisherman drowned when his boat capsized off central Iloilo province, and a man was killed after he was hit by a coconut tree in Nagcarlan town, on Luzon's Laguna province.

A ferry with more than 700 people aboard, meanwhile, ran aground in rough waters after trying take shelter on Tablas island on Saturday, Coyme said. Two tugboats were headed toward the MV Filipina Princess.

Nearly 8,000 ferry passengers were stranded Saturday in various ports in southern and southeastern Luzon because the coast guard halted services, civil defense said.

The Philippines weather bureau reported that Chanchu cut through Mindoro island overnight and was heading toward the South China Sea, moving at 10 mph with sustained winds of 59 mph.

© 2006 The Associated Press