At Least Four Dead After Philippine Ferry Capsize
Four people have died and seven are thought to be missing after a ferry capsized in the Philippines on Thursday.
The inter-island ferry Mercraft 3 was caught in adverse weather in waters off Quezon Province about 40 miles east of the capital, Manila. The ferry was bound for Polilio Island, and passengers report the vessel sank within minutes of taking in water.
The ferry has capacity for 286 passengers, and around 240 people have been rescued so far. The Coast Guard, Navy, fishing and private vessels are assisting in search and rescue operations.
The incident occurred at a time when millions of Filipinos travel home for Christmas and New Year. Sea travel can be risky in the nation which has over 7,000 islands and a history of lax sailing standards. However, the Coast Guard has been reported saying the vessel, in this case, was not overloaded as there were 251 passengers on board.
This month, 30 years ago, the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster occurred in the Philippines with the collision between the passenger vessel the MV Doña Paz and a tanker off the coast of Mindoro. Over 4,000 people died.