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70 dead, 700 missing after ferry disaster

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: 70 people have been confirmed dead and more than 700 remain missing
  • NEW: 48 survivors have been found washed ashore around Sibuyan Island
  • NEW: President Arroyo said government is "holding the ferry company accountable"
  • 866 people were aboard the ferry -- 725 passengers and 141 crew members
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(CNN) -- Seventy people have been confirmed dead and more than 700 remain missing more than four days after a ferry capsized in a typhoon off the coast of the Philippines, the country's defense minister said Wednesday.

Relatives wait in Manila port for news; few survivors have been rescued, officials said.

U.S. Navy divers prepare to search the sunken ferry MV Princess of the Stars on June 25.

Forty-eight survivors have been found washed ashore in different places around Sibuyan Island, where the ferry was toppled by Typhoon Fengshen early Saturday morning, said Gilberto Teodoro, who oversees Philippine disaster response and was in Washington coordinating with the U.S. government.

In all, 866 people were aboard the Princess of the Stars -- 725 passengers and 141 crew members -- Teodoro said.

"Our heart beats out and our prayers go to the victims and to the families of the victims," Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, who also was in Washington, said Wednesday. Video Watch aerial pictures of the sunken ferry »

The U.S. military has sent naval craft from Okinawa and Hawaii to assist the Philippines in relief and search-and-rescue efforts. The U.S.S. Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was in the area Wednesday in support of relief efforts. Video Watch images of the ferry sinking »

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A total of 315 people have been confirmed dead in connection with the typhoon, Teodoro said.

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Arroyo said her government is "holding the ferry company accountable" and will be investigating how the capsizing happened. Video Watch a report on an inquiry into disaster »

"We have to find out how we can avoid such a tragedy from happening again," she said.

All About PhilippinesWeatherInternational Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

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