MANILA - Malacañang on Friday said an investigation is underway into the capsizing of a ferry between Dinahican, Quezon and Polilio Island which resulted in the deaths of at least 5 people.
"Our coast guard had immediately conducted search and rescue operations for the crew and passengers of the ferry following the tragedy," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement.
"Investigations have started to determine what caused this sea mishap even as we call on our transport officials to exercise due diligence in the performance of their duties especially with the expected huge influx of travelers to the provinces this holiday season."
The Philippine Coast Guard said on Friday it had rescued 252 passengers and crew, including an Australian and his Filipino wife, and recovered five dead people from the capsized ferry Mercraft 3.
The Mercraft 3 capsized on Thursday because of bad weather, highlighting frequent boat accidents in the Southeast Asian nation that is composed of more than 7,000 islands.
"All the passengers and crew are accounted for but as I have said we will re-evaluate based on the claims of the families of the missing passengers," Balilo told Reuters. The vessel was carrying 257 passengers and crew.
The boat left the port around 9 a.m. and capsized an hour later due to strong winds and giant waves. A survivor said the passengers panicked when the boat started to take in water and went to one side, causing the ferry to tilt and capsize. - with Reuters