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Philippine ferry disaster death toll rises to 52

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Volunteer rescuers struggle in big waves as they head to the site of a ferry crash near Cebu on August 18, 2013. The death toll from the disaster rose to 52 on Monday as more bodies were pulled from the water, the coastguard said. (AFP)

The death toll from a ferry disaster in the Philippines rose to 52 on Monday as more bodies were pulled from the water, the coastguard said.

Divers and patrol boats were continuing to search for 68 other people still missing after the St Thomas Aquinas ferry collided with a cargo ship on Friday night and quickly sank near the central city of Cebu, the coastguard added.

Navy and coastguard divers have been struggling against strong currents to enter the wreckage of the ferry, which is about 30 metres (98 feet) under water.

The latest confirmed death toll rose from 38 on Sunday night.

No details were immediately given as to how or where the extra bodies were recovered.

However an AFP reporter witnessed one bloated body, which had been found floating in the water, being towed to shore by a coastal patrol boat on Monday morning.