At least 25 people were killed and dozens reported missing after three boats capsized due to bad weather off the central Philippines, the disaster management office confirmed on Sunday.
The accidents occurred on Saturday off the rough seas between the city of Iloilo and Guimaras province amid heavy rains, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.
The capsized vessels are Chi-chi, with four crew members and 43 passengers aboard, Kezziah, with four crew members, and Jenny Vince, which was carrying 34 passengers and four crew members, Efe news reported.
All three vessels plied the short 20-minute hop between the port city of Iloilo and the island of Guimaras, with two of the accidents happening almost the same time around noon, forcing the coast guard to temporarily shut down ferry services. Services resumed in the afternoon, which was when the third boat capsized, the coast guard said.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said, “The winds and the waves suddenly became strong”.
Philippine Red Cross posted pictures of two of the vessels on social media, showing one turned upside down as rescuers swam nearby, while the other was almost completely sunk with just the bow above water.
Dozens of people die in the Philippines each year in accidents at sea caused mostly by bad weather, failure to comply with safety regulations, poor vessel maintenance and overloading.
The worst accident in modern commercial navigation happened in the Philippines in 1987 when the Doña Paz ferry capsized in the waters of Leyte after colliding with an oil tanker, killing 4,341 people.
(With Agency inputs)