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MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) Philippine police have filed murder charges against the owner

and crew of a passenger ferry that capsized and left 56 dead, an official said Saturday, July 4.
The charges were filed late on Friday, July 3, in the central city of Ormoc over the sinking of the
Kim Nirvana ship, according to regional police head Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina.
An initial police investigation and interviews with survivors showed the vessel abruptly turned in
waters off the central port of Ormoc on Thursday, July 2, causing it to capsize, Dolina told Agence
France-Presse.
"They were not careful, showing there was an intent to kill. They were reckless on purpose,"
Dolina said.
A total of 19 people were charged, including ship operator Joge Bong Zarco, captain Warren
Oliviero, and 17 crew members, according to Dolina.
Under Philippine law, murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison.
The police investigation is separate from a coast guard inquiry, which will primarily determine the
cause of the mishap.
However, the coast guard may also recommend criminal and administrative charges.
"We filed the charges as soon as we could because we don't want the suspects to leave the
country," Dolina said.
Fifty-six people were confirmed dead from the sinking, Ormoc city councilor Godiardo Ebcas told
Agence France-Presse.
Overloading of cargo and passengers might have been to blame for the disaster, according to
Ebcas, who helped oversee rescue operations.
Survivors reported seeing up to 150 sacks of cement and more of rice and fertilizer in the ship's
cargo area before it capsized in relatively calm seas, he said.
Bloated bodies spilled out of the Kim Nirvana's wooden hull as a crane lifted it from the water and
placed it on Ormoc port, Ebcas added.
Poorly-maintained boats
The city councilor said the death toll stood at 56, with 142 survivors. His toll was higher than the
45 reported by the coast guard, which was based on the ship's passenger list, though the guard
counted the same number of survivors.
The coast guard earlier said the 33-ton ship could carry 194 people including 178 passengers
and 16 crew, but according to the casualty count of the city council, the ship was carrying at least
198.
"The ship might not be too overloaded in terms of passengers, but imagine the weight of its
cargo," Ebcas said.
Each sack of rice, cement, and fertilizer weighs 50 kilos (110 pounds), and 150 sacks would
easily add 7,500 kilos to the ship's load, excluding passengers, he said.
Passengers on the ferry's regular route from Ormoc to the Camotes islands regularly bring
supplies from the city to their remote fishing villages.

Search operations with rescue divers were stopped on Friday before the ship was lifted to port's
berthing area.
Poorly-maintained, loosely-regulated ferries form the backbone of maritime travel in the
Philippines, a sprawling archipelago of 100 million people.
Many sea disasters occur during the typhoon season, which starts in June.
Frequent accidents in recent decades have claimed thousands of lives, including the world's
worst peacetime maritime disaster in 1987 when the Doa Paz ferry collided with an oil tanker,
leaving more than 4,300 dead. Rappler.com