But bad weather was hampering search and rescue operations for 34 people still missing, he added.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Last month, a cargo ship sank in rough seas north of Cagayan, and passing vessels plucked 16 of 20 people from shark-infested waters.

Weeks earlier, separate storms capsized two passenger boats in the central Philippines, drowning more than 50 people.

The state weather bureau warned over the weekend of an approaching storm from the Pacific with winds of up to 95kph.

Tropical Storm Dolphin could become a typhoon before getting closer to the eastern Philippines in the next few days, according to forecasts.