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Four People Killed after Ferry Capsizes off Remote Philippine Island

  • VOA News

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte looks at damage after Tropical Storm Kai-Tak hit the island province of Biliran, central Philippines, Dec. 18, 2017. On Wednesday, the coast guard reported a ferry had capsized in a new storm.

Four people are confirmed dead and 81 others are missing after Thursday's capsizing of a ferry off a remote island in the Philippines.

Philippine coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo says 166 individuals have been rescued by navy and coast guard rescue crews and a flotilla of fishing boats near Polilo island, located about 70 kilometers northeast of Manila. Many of the rescued passengers were taken to the port village of Dinahican in Quezon province.

The Mercraft 3 ferry was carrying 251 people between the town of Real in Quezon to Polilo when it was hit by strong winds and high waves, and soon began taking on water. Bad weather has hampered plans to dispatch of coast guard helicopter to the site of the sunken boat.

Sea accidents are a common occurrence in the Philippines, with vessels poorly maintained and overcrowded due to lax oversight in the 7,000 island archipelago. Thursday's accident occurred 30 years to the month when the ferry Dona Paz collided with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,000 people in the world's worst maritime accident in peacetime.

Balilo says the Mercraft 3 ferry, with a maximum capacity of 286 people, was not overcrowded.