Coast guard men rescued 15 Filipinos and 4 South Koreans who abandoned a Panamanian—registered cargo ship that lost power on Monday in rough waters in the central Philippines, officials said.

The M/V Hera, which was en route to China from Papua New Guinea with a cargo of logs, encountered engine trouble, then lost power off Eastern Samar province early Monday. All its crew members managed to escape in a life boat, which was later spotted by coast guard rescuers, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.

It was not immediately clear if the 4,189—ton Hera sank after stalling at sea. A coast guard helicopter has been deployed to check its condition, Tamayo told The Associated Press.

A Hong Kong maritime accident monitoring centr asked the local coast guard to start a search and rescue after receiving a distress call from the Hera, Taemayo said.

The accident followed the sinking on Sunday of an inter—island ferry, which carried 968 passengers and crewmen, in the southern Philippines. At least nine passengers drowned, 957 survived and two remained missing in Sunday’s sinking of Superferry 9, the coast guard said.

“It’s a must that all ships should have well—maintained engines at all times,” Tamayo said, adding seafarers should be doubly more vigilant in the current stormy season “when our seas turn treacherous.”

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago due to tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

Keywords: FilipinosKoreansrescuedferry

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