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Five of the confirmed fatalities occurred when a wooden-hulled passenger ferry capsized about 10 kilometers (six miles) from port off the southwestern island of Palawan on Tuesday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said.
The PCG said out of the 5, only one body had been identified as of 4:30 pm.
The wooden-hulled M/V Josille 2 was carrying 34 passengers and 12 crew members when it was reported before dawn to have sunk off the northern coast of Palawan, the coast guard said.
At least 17 other people were believed to be missing, based on the ferry’s manifest, Palawan Coast Guard spokeswoman Ensign Greanata Jude told AFP.
But she said the authorities thought many more could be missing as ferry masters frequently misdeclare the actual number of passengers on board to evade safety regulations.
Two people were also killed and another reported missing when heavy rains lashed the southern island of Mindanao, unleashing floods on Monday and Tuesday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Center said.
Four people were recovered earlier in the day, according to Commodore Alexander Lopez of the Joint Task Force Malampaya.
So far, 16 survivors have been brought to Barangay Liminangcong in Taytay, where the vessel originated.
Search and rescue operations are still ongoing, but stormy weather is hampering operations. A third Coast Guard vessel is reportedly en route to the area.
The wooden ferry boat traversing the open sea from Taytay to El Nido in northern Palawan around 11 pm Tuesday evening.
Ferries are one of the main modes of transport in the Philippine archipelago of more than 7,100 islands, and accidents at sea are common due to poor safety standards and overloading.
Many accidents occur in rough seas between June and October, when the country is pounded by up to 20 major storms and typhoons.
The coastguard also said 7 fishermen were rescued by a cargo vessel after their boat sank before dawn in stormy waters on Manila Bay on Wednesday.
“The 7 persons were using pieces of styrofoam as floating devices,” Manila coastguard desk officer Daisy Peralta told AFP.
The state weather service warned of more flash floods and landslides in the coming days with a storm approaching Mindanao. – Rappler.com/With reports from Agence France-Presse