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Ferry capsizes in the Philippines, at least 36 dead

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PHILIPPINES– A boat carrying 173 passengers has capsized in the central Philippines, minutes after leaving port.

The local Coast Guard reported that at least 36 people have died, with 118 survivors, and 19 people still missing, according to CNN affiliate, CNN Philippines.

The MB Nirvana had just departed Ormoc City, Leyte Province bound for Pilar town on Camotes Island, east of Cebu at around 12 p.m. local time Thursday when the disaster occurred.

The boat, which was 27 meters long, was barely 200 meters from the shore line, according to Philippine Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Ganet.

He said those who have been rescued are being taken to local hospitals in the area around Ormoc.

Heavy winds

Philippine National Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon told CNN he understood the boat overturned because of high winds.

He said Red Cross staff were on the pier in Ormoc assisting those who make it back to shore with blankets and meals.

Gwendolyn Pang, Secretary-General of the National Red Cross in Manila, described the vessel as a commercial “pump boat” or banka, which is essentially a canoe-style craft with outriggers and powered by a small engine. They’re widely used across the Philippines for transporting people and goods, as well as for fishing.