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Ship’s 18 crew still missing

Two days after their vessel sank off Tingloy, Batangas, 18 crewmen of MV Starlite Atlantic have yet to be found despite the massive search and rescue operation (SAR) by sea, air, and land units.

The search coverage has been extended to Mindoro, according to Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) spokesman Lt. Commander Balilo.

The ill-fated roll-on, roll-off vessel did not carry passengers or cargo when gale-force winds and huge waves caused it to sink.

There were 33 crewmen on board.

The body of 21-year-old Lyka Banaynal was washed ashore in San Isidro, Batangas. It was found at 8 p.m. the same day by residents.

Fourteen crewmen, including the vessel’s captain Eric Cuevas, were rescued. The other survivors are Russel Andal, Rommel Olaco, Ricky Lalen, Angelo Estinote, Nestor Santiago, Airon Barrera, Jonathan Garcia, Jill Violyn Gonzales, Rhonvic Ricohermoso, James Bernard Padilla, Marjeon Baldonasa, Bobet Rabasto, and Jose June Bernabe.

PCG Batangas Commander Raul Belesario said the survivors were brought to the Coast Guard District Southern Tagalog for initial medical treatment.

Some of the survivors have been discharged from the hospital, Belesario added.

The PCG did not release the names of the missing crewmen whose relatives have been briefed by Belesario and Capt. Julius Ceasar Lim on the progress of the SAR.

“Pinaliwanag natin sa kanila kung ano yung nangyari, ‘yung mga efforts at kung ano pang mga magagandang gawin sa mga susunod na araw,” Belesario said.

Philippine Navy (PN) technical divers are set to participate in the SAR along with the air assets of the Philippine Air Force (PAF). (ARGYLL GEDUCOS)