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34 killed as boat carrying 173 passengers capsizes in central Philippines


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At least 34 are believed to be dead so far after a boat carrying 173 passengers capsized in central Philippines minutes after leaving port, CCN reported on Thursday.

CNN quoted  the Red Cross as saying the vessel had departed Ormoc City, Leyte Province bound for Camotes Island, east of Cebu on Thursday when the disaster occurred.

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

"Around 50 people" have been rescued so far, with Red Cross staff on the pier in Ormoc assisting those who make it back to shore with blankets and meals, he reported said.

Gwendolyn Pang, Secretary-General of the National Red Cross in Manila, said they believed at least 34 people had died.

She 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. Meanwhile, the Philippine Coast Guard told CNN the rescue was ongoing.

The vessel, which was 27 meters long, was barely 200 meters from the shore line when it capsized, according to Coast Guard Lieutenant Christopher Ganet. He said those who have been rescued are being taken to local hospitals in the area around Ormoc.

 

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