MBCA Kim Nirvana, a passenger boat carrying 189 people has capsized in the central Philippines, minutes after leaving port, the Philippine Red Cross and coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Armand Balilo said.
There were 173 passengers and 16 crew members on board, according to Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon. At least 39 have died, he said, and 134 survived. Seventeen people remain unaccounted for, he said.
Regional coast guard commander Capt. Pedro Tinampay told DZBB radio in Manila that rescuers were using a barge with a crane to move the overturned boat to its side to make it easier for divers to find more bodies. Another crane will be used to raise it upright, he said.
Many of the passengers were traders bringing farm produce and other merchandise to the Camotes Island, whose residents rely mostly on fishing.
Video footage from the scene showed people of all ages, including a small child, being brought ashore in small inflatable craft. Some survivors were laid on the concrete waterfront, while others were wheeled away on stretchers.
The boat, which is 27 meters (89 feet) long, was barely 200 meters (more than 650 feet) from the shore when it capsized, Philippine coast guard Lt. Christopher Ganet said.
The incident was the world’s most fatal maritime disaster since February, when 68 died after a passenger ferry sank in Bangladesh
A tropical country of nearly 100 million situated across more than 7,000 islands, the Philippines is particularly susceptible to disaster at sea. Thursday’s capsizing was the 14th major ferry accident in the country since 2000 and the deadliest since 2008, when the sinking of the Don Dexter Kathleen claimed 44 lives.