At least 26 people have died and more than 200 people are missing after a ferry with nearly 900 people on board sank near the central Philippine port of Cebu.
A vessel collided with a domestic cargo ship on Friday night on route for Manila, said Rear Admiral Luis Tuazon.
Some 690 of people have been rescued from the waters by dozens of fishing boats that rushed to the area, local radio reported.
Passenger Jerwin Agudong told radio station DZBB that some people were trapped and he saw bodies in the water.
"It seems some were not able to get out. I pity the children. We saw dead bodies on the side, and some being rescued," he said.
The passenger said the crew of the ferry distributed life jackets while the ship was slowly sinking.
The captain of the ferry MV Thomas Aquinas ordered the ship abandoned after it began listing and then sank after hitting the cargo vessel, coastguard officer Joy Villegas said.
Two coastguard vessels and other nearby ships were involved in the rescue operation not far from the port of Cebu, Villegas said.
Accidents at sea are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
In 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,000 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.
In 2008, the ferry MV Princess of the Stars capsised during a typhoon in the central Philippines, killing nearly 800 people.