MANILA - The death toll from a capsized Philippine ferry rose to 51 on Friday (Jul 3) as rescuers tried to right the overturned vessel and found more bodies, a coast guard official said.
The motorised, wooden-hulled boat rolled on its side and overturned minutes after leaving the port of Ormoc City on Thursday. Coast guard Captain Pedro Tinampay said there were 141 survivors.
Passengers said the ferry appeared to turn sharply to the right and was hit by a large wave before it overturned after leaving port in Leyte province, south of the capital, Manila.
"We were given life vests but we were not able to wear them before the ferry sank," said survivor Rhe-An Garciano.
Panicked passengers crowded the right side of the ferry, causing it to tilt slowly before capsizing, a coast guard spokesman said.
Scores, sometimes hundreds, of people die each year from ferry accidents in the Philippines, an archipelago of 7,100 islands with a notoriously poor record for maritime safety.
Overcrowding is common and many of the vessels are in bad condition.