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LONDON -- The Philippine inter-island passenger ferry "Princess of the Orient," which capsized and sank in a typhoon earlier this month, has hull coverage of about $8 million from domestic insurers, though it was partially reinsured in international markets, including London.
A total of 359 people survived the disaster, but 40 are confirmed dead and 55 were listed as missing as of late last week.
The Philippine Maritime Industry Authority, or MARINA, has suspended passenger operations of the vessel's owners, Sulpicio Lines Inc., while an investigation is under way into the sinking of the 24-year-old vessel, which was en route to Cebu from Manila.
The government has convened a board of inquiry to investigate the sinking.
The latest disaster further dents the Philippines' record for maritime safety, and the order for the investigation came from the highest level, Philippines President Joseph Estrada.
Local reports quoted MARINA's chief investigator as saying the ferry was carrying heavy cargo that may have shifted during the typhoon.
With 30 vessels in its fleet, Sulpicio Lines is one of the Philippines' largest domestic shipping operators.
Sulpicio Lines also was the owner of the "Dona Paz," a vessel that collided with an oil tanker and sank in 1987. That accident caused the loss of more than 4,000 passengers and crew, making it the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster in terms of lives lost.