Philippine Air Force Rescue Women Who Drifted 30 Hours at Sea After Ferry Sinks

An official says a Philippine air force helicopter has plucked to safety a woman who drifted for about 30 hours at sea after the sinking of a ferry that left nine dead.

Rear Admiral Alex Pama said Monday housewife Lita Casumlum, 39, was found bobbing with a life jacket about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from where the 7,269-ton Superferry 9 sank on Sunday.

He called her rescue "a miracle."

Pama said a massive air, land and sea search will continue for remaining, lone missing passenger of the ferry which went down off southern Zamboanga del Norte province after listing for about six hours. Nearly 1,000 other passengers were rescued, The Associated Press reports.

Navy spokesman Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo said the oil leak was noticed early morning by personnel aboard a patrol gunboat, which is among the several Navy ships deployed in the area for search and rescue operations.

Arevalo said the gunboat's captain, Commander Ramil Enriquez, immediately reported the information to his superiors at the Naval Forces Western Mindanao under Rear Admiral Alex Pama who immediately dispatched an Island plane to check on it.

Coast Guard command Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said they have already sent experts with their equipment at the site to check on a supposed oil spill.

Tamayo said the Super Ferry 9 was loaded with about 180 tons of residual oil, 45 tons of special fuel oil and 35 tons of lube oil. He said an oil spill is possible if the ship's hull is weak or if the hull sustained cracks, Xinhua informs.

Officials said Monday that all the vessels of Aboitiz Transport System, the country’s largest operator of passenger ships, could be grounded pending the completion of an “audit inspection” by the Maritime Industry Authority and the Philippine Coast Guard, according to Thompson Lantion, an undersecretary with the authority.

The rescued passengers would receive “assistance such as medical, hotel accommodation and transport needs,” according to Jess Supan, the vice president for safety and security for Aboitiz, according to New York Times.

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