MANILA, Philippines Typhoon Fengshen lashed the Philippines for a second day today leaving at least 80 people dead, but the death toll could rise significantly after a passenger ferry capsized carrying more than 740 passengers and crew.
Villagers found four bodies, children's slippers and life jackets that washed ashore today near the stranded MV Princess of Stars. Port captain Nestor Ponteres said the ferry's owner, Sulpicio Lines, had lost radio contact with the ship and the fate of its passengers was unknown.
The death toll included 59 people who drowned in the central province of Iloilo, with another 40 missing, Gov. Neil Tupaz said.
"Almost all the towns are covered by water. It's like an ocean," Tupaz said, adding thousands have been displaced in the province that is home to 1.7 million people.
The four dead washed ashore, including a man and a woman who bound themselves together, were believed to have been on the vessel, which initially ran aground a few miles off central Sibuyan island Saturday, then capsized, said Mayor Nanette Tansingco of San Fernando on Sibuyan island.
The typhoon lashed the central Philippines for about four hours Saturday, setting off landslides and floods, knocking out power and blowing off roofs.
Packing sustained winds of 74 miles per hour and gusts of up to 93 mph, the typhoon shifted course today to the northwest and battered Manila at dawn, dumping heavy rain on the capital.
Rescue vessels aborted an initial attempt Saturday to get to the 23,824-ton ferry, but efforts resumed in stormy weather today, with one ship approaching the stricken vessel, coast guard chief Vice Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.
"A lot of efforts have been done to send off rescue boats, but we really can't get through the very rough weather," Tamayo told The Associated Press.
Tansingco said the bodies were found in three San Fernando villages, adding residents have also found other objects that apparently came from the ferry.
"Many slippers of children were washed ashore the shoreline and found by villagers," Tansingco told DZBB radio.
The ferry with 626 passengers and 121 crew members on board was "dead in the water" after its engine failed around noon Saturday, Tamayo said.
In southern Maguindanao province, at least 14 people drowned in flash floods Saturday, including 10 swept away from riverside homes, said provincial administrator Norie Unas. Five others were missing.