2 cargo ships sink in Philippines; 32 aboard saved

A cargo ship loaded with cement sank in the central Philippines today and another vessel carrying iron ore went down off the country's eastern coast, the coast guard said. All 32 crewmen from both ships were rescued.

The ship carrying iron ore, the Panamanian-registered M/V Sun Spirit, began to list yesterday off Catanduanes province and sent a distress signal. Though coast guard officials immediately deployed three ships and a helicopter for a search and rescue, it was a Philippine cargo ship and a fishing boat that saved the crew of 12 Indonesians and two Koreans, who had abandoned the ship, coast guard Adm. Ramon Liwag said.

It was not immediately clear why the ship sank. It was bound for China after leaving the central Philippine province of Leyte, officials said. Separately, a Philippine cargo ship with 18 Filipino crewmen sank early today off central Antique province when its hull hit a hard object and took in water. The crewmen were rescued by fishing boats, coast guard spokesman Lt Cmdr Algier Ricafrente said.

The M/V Seaford 2 was destined for Antique with about 35,000 sacks of cement. Coast guard and Antique officials were monitoring any possible oil spill from the sunken vessel, which left southern Iligan city with 9,000 liters of oil for fuel, Ricafrente said.

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