Bodies in life jackets washed up on islands and drifted at sea Wednesday as more than 100 divers probed deeper inside a Philippine ferry that capsized during a powerful typhoon.
While the divers have found only bodies so far, officials were not willing to give up hope of finding more survivors among the more than 800 people missing since the seven-story ferry listed and went down Saturday.
“There is a slim chance that we can still find survivors” inside the ferry, coast guard Lt. Cmdr. Rogelio Villanueva said. “As the days pass, indeed the chance is getting slimmer.”
Transportation Undersecretary Maria Elena Bautista said she was still hoping for “a miraculous air pocket somewhere in the ship.” She said 95 Filipino and eight U.S. divers were taking part in the search.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The disaster could raise the storm's death toll in the country to more than 1,300, with 329 people confirmed dead from flooding and landslides and more than 200 missing.
Typhoon Fengshen, downgraded to a tropical storm, made landfall Wednesday in Hong Kong and southeast China, which is still struggling to recover from flooding earlier this month.
Only four dozen ferry survivors have been found. Three more bodies wearing life vests believed to be from the ship washed up Wednesday on Burias Island, 55 miles away, while ships were dispatched to pick up groups of up to 55 bodies spotted by surveillance aircraft.
Just the tip of the bow of the 23,824-ton Princess of the Stars was jutting from the water. The storm's aftermath had kept rescue workers away until calm, sunny conditions Tuesday allowed some of the 35 divers to slither inside for the first time.