MANILA, Philippines, Dec 21: Philippine coast guard boats and fishermen worked to rescue more than 200 people on board an inter-island ferry which sank Thursday after being lashed by strong winds and waves off a northeastern province, officials said.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the rescue was launched after the passenger vessel Mercraft 3 began sinking between Quezon province's Infanta town and the ferry's destination, Polillo island.
A survivor, Donel Jade Mendiola, told DZMM radio that the weather was fine when the ferry left port in Quezon's Real town but strong winds and large waves started to batter it about two hours into the trip.
"The vessel came to a halt and started taking in water in the front side. The passengers dashed to one side and the ferry started to sink," Mendiola said. He said the passengers were instructed to don life vests.
The coast guard is coordinating with the military for the possible deployment of air force helicopters and navy ships to help in the rescue, Balilo said.
Typhoons and storms, poorly maintained ferries and ships and law enforcement issues have often been blamed for past sea disasters in the Philippine archipelago.