4 dead, 88 missing after Philippine ferry sinks

The Philippine Coast Guard said four people died and 88 went missing Thursday after a ferry sank in rough seas about 43 miles east of Manila, Philippines. File Photo by EPA/Dennis Sabangan

By Susan McFarland – UPI

The Philippine Coast Guard said four people died and more than 150 were rescued Thursday after a ferry sank in rough seas off the coast of Manila.

The “Mercraft 3” left port in northern Quezon capsized late Thursday morning, officials said, about 45 miles east of the Philippine capital.

Investigators don’t know yet what caused the vessel to sink, but weather could have been a factor. A tropical storm is forecast to hit the area on Friday, but there were no storm warnings at the time the boat sailed, officials said.

One of the survivors told radio station DZMM that winds suddenly picked up and the ferry stopped as the bow started taking on water, and passengers ran to the side of the vessel just before it tipped over.

The Mercraft 3 has a maximum capacity of 286 passengers and 251 were on board when it sank, the coast guard said.

Authorities said Thursday 88 people are still missing.

Filipinos planning to return to their home provinces for Christmas were advised by the government to go earlier to avoid heavy rains this weekend.