MANILA, Philippines – Search-and-rescue teams combed the waters of Manila Bay on Thursday for at least 27 people missing after a passenger ferry collided with a fishing boat, the coast guard said. At least 46 people have been plucked alive from the water, and the coast guard alerted all vessels in the area to look for others, said coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo.
The wooden-hulled ferry was carrying 73 people on a journey from Manila to southwest Mindoro Island, but it was not clear how many were in the fishing boat, which sank shortly after the accident, Balilo said.
The cause of the collision at a time when millions of Filipinos were heading to their home provinces ahead of Christmas Eve was not clear. No weather disturbances were reported in the area.
Sea accidents are common in the archipelago due to tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.
In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,341 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.