Manila, Philippines : A ferry with 251 people on board has capsized about 70 km east of Manila – off Quezon Province of northern Phillipines – with reports of casualties, according to the Philippine Coast Guard which is carrying out rescue operations.
At least three people were killed in the accident sailing off an island south of Manila, Philippines, on Thursday.
Rescue operations were hampered by disastrous weather and huge waves caused by a typhoon in the south.
Philippine Coast guard, (PCG), boats and army helicopters rushed to the Polilio island in the province of Quezon to rescue passengers.
Armand Balilo, a coastguard spokesman, said: “We heard about casualties.
“But we are still trying to get a complete picture.”
He said the ferry left a port in Real town, Quezon, and was on the way to Polilio, an island in the northeastern region of the Philippine archipelago which is separated from Luzon island by the Polilio Strait.
Balilo said authorities are looking into the cause of the accident. However, he said it could be due to the inclement weather.
Quezon police director Rhoderick Armamento said as quoted by Straits that the most of the passengers have been rescued.
The accident occurred off the town of Real, about 70 kilometres (43 miles) east of Manila, as the boat sailed towards the remote island of Polillo in rough weather, coastguard spokesman Armand Balilo told a news conference.
The initial reports read that the reason for the accident was a big hole sustained by the ship, acting Quezon disaster risk reduction and management council chief Juanito Diaz reportedly said.
This is coming just after the 30 year anniversary of the ferry Doña Paz tragedy. On December 20th, 1987, in the worst peacetime sea disaster, the passenger ferry Doña Paz sank after colliding with the oil tanker Vector in the Tablas Strait in the Philippines, killing an estimated 4,000 people (1,749 official).
In 2013, at least 71 were killed when the Saint Thomas Aquinas ferry sank after colliding with a cargo ship near Cebu port in the central Philippines. The ship was carrying 830 passengers and crew.
Boat accidents are common in the Philippines – which is frequently lashed by storms and typhoons.