RECOVERED. Philippine Coast Guard personnel retrieve the cadaver of one of the victims of the Basilan ferry fire in Lampinigan Island, Isabela City early Wednesday (April 5, 2023). The retrieved remains belonged to Staff Sgt. Audro Cerbatos of the Sulu-based 11th Infantry Division. (Photo courtesy of Basilan PIO)

ZAMBOANGA CITY – The death toll in the Basilan ferry fire incident rose to 31 on Wednesday after three remains were separately fished out from the sea, a Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) official said.

Ensign Arturo Alamani Jr., Isabela City Coast Guard Station commander, said the casualties as Anacleto Ponollera Jr., 57, of Barangay Sta. Catalina here; Staff Sgt. Audro Cerbatos, 40, of the Army's 11th Infantry Division (ID); and Jack Bungso Sr. of Maimbung, Sulu.

Their remains will be brought to this city for proper disposition, he said.

Twenty passengers remain missing as of Wednesday, among them Private 1st Class Marion Malda of the Sulu-based 11ID.

Alamani appealed to fishermen to immediately report to them whenever they see bodies floating at sea when they go fishing.

“Our search and retrieval is ongoing,” he said.

The M/V Lady Mary Joy 3 caught fire at about 11:30 p.m. on March 29 near Baluk-Baluk Island, Hadji Muhtamad, Basilan while sailing to Sulu from Zamboanga City. (PNA)