A ferry carrying more than 200 passengers has capsized off the Philippines in bad weather conditions, killing at least four people, authorities told local media.
The incident reportedly happened between Dinahican and Polillo Island in the Quezon province in central Philippines on Thursday.
Captain Armand Balilo, a Philippine Coast Guard spokesman, was quoted as saying by local media that teams already rescued 166 of the passengers on the ferry, adding that rescue operation was going on.
Police director Rhoderick Armamento in Quezon also told The Inquirer newspaper that most of the passengers of the ferry, which was bound for Polilio Island, were rescued and accounted for based on the passenger manifest.
Al Jazeera’s Jamela Alindogan, reporting from Manila, said bad weather was hampering the rescue operation.
“The navy rescue services told us that there was no typhoon advisory at the time of the accident. There were, however very rough seas,” Alindogan said.
Initial reports suggested that the ferry may have been over capacity. But it has since become clear the ship had a capacity of 300, while the recorded number of passengers was 251.
“Right now the priority is to conduct rescue operations. The next eight hours will be very critical,” our correspondent said.
“The Philippines coastguard is now working together with the navy and air force. But it is going to be difficult; it’s nighttime here and the rough seas between these two islands will not make it easier.”
The Philippines, made of over 7,000 islands, often experiences tough weather conditions. Over the past week, heavy rain and landslides, triggered by tropical storm Kai-Tak, left more than 40 people dead.
Maritime accidents are common in the Southeast Asian country due to its poor sea transportation infrastructure.