The owner and crew of a ferry that capsized in rough waters in central Philippines last week, killing at least 59 people, have been charged with murder, an official said Saturday, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP). The charges were filed late Friday in the central city of Ormoc.
The Kim Nirvana ship reportedly capsized after it abruptly turned in the waters on Thursday, regional police head Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina said, citing an initial investigation into the incident. Nineteen people, including ship operator Joge Bong Zarco, Captain Warren Oliviero, and 17 crew members, have been charged in the case, Dolina said, according to AFP.
“They were not careful, showing there was an intent to kill. They were reckless on purpose," Dolina said.
The police investigation is reportedly separate from an inquiry being carried out by the coast guard that will help determine the cause of the incident.
"We filed the charges as soon as we could because we don't want the suspects to leave the country," Dolina said, according to AFP, adding that the coast guard may file criminal and administrative charges.
Regional Coast Guard Commander Capt. Pedro Tinampay said that 145 people, including all 18 crew members, survived the incident, the Associated Press reported.
The coast guard earlier said that the 33-ton ship could carry 194 people, including 178 passengers and 16 crew members. It later said that the ship was carrying at least 198 people.
A marine investigation into the incident will help determine how many people were actually aboard the vessel.