"Theoretically speaking, the search and rescue operation has ended. We have already shifted to search and retrieval operation today," he told local radio in an interview.
However, Ursabia said the search goes on. "We are not losing hope. Miracle is a reality. There is still a possibility that they are alive," he added.
The search and retrieval operation will be conducted from Friday to Saturday. "On Sunday, we will evaluate the situation to see if we still need to extend for another two days the operation, and then eventually we will have to decide to terminate the operations," he added.
The bulk cargo carrier MV Vienna Wood was sailing to Australia from Subic Bay in Zambales province, northwest of Manila, when it collided with Philippine fishing boat FV Liberty 5 at 10.20 p.m. on Saturday off Mamburao, a coastal town in Occidental Mindoro province.
Twelve fishermen, including the captain, and two passengers were missing after the fishing boat sank.
On Thursday, PCG spokesman Armand Balilo said the missing people may have been trapped inside the sunken boat that is resting on the seabed approximately 2,000 meters deep.
The PCG said poor visibility and poor sea condition may have caused the accident.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippines, an archipelagic country battered by up to 20 tropical cyclones every year.
Philippine authorities also blamed the past sea accidents on badly maintained vessels and weak enforcement of safety regulations in the country where small, rickety inter-island ferries are a main mode of transport. - Xinhua
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