At least 12 bodies were found in the wreckage of the MV Catalyn B that was sitting upright on the sea floor at the mouth of Manila Bay, according to a civilian volunteer that conducted a deep-sea dive on the site Monday.
The wooden-hulled ferry sank after it smashed into a steel-hulled fishing vessel on Christmas Eve three nautical miles from Limbones Island off Maragondon, Cavite.
The bodies of the rest of the 24 people missing may be trapped inside still-unopened cabins of Catalyn B, said the Coast Guard spokesperson, Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo.
The discovery of the bodies came as two Coast Guard officers at the Calapan City port, who allowed the MV Baleno 9 to sail, were relieved to give way to the investigation of the ship’s sinking.
The roll-on, roll-of vessel capsized off Isla Verde on the night of Dec. 26, killing at least six of its 124 passengers and crew.
Diver Matthew Caldwell, a captain of the Coast Guard Auxiliary, said Catalyn B was 67 meters (221 feet) below the surface, a depth out of reach of scuba divers.
The vessel was in a “perfectly upright” position, with its bow “severely damaged.” Initial investigation showed that Catalyn B and Anatalia failed to follow nautical right-of-way rules. The Coast Guard chief, Admiral Alfredo Tamayo said the bodies that Caldwell saw would not yet be added to the list of fatalities. (Philippine Daily Inquirer)