7 dead, 31 rescued after boats capsize in Philippines

MANILA, Philippines — At least seven people died and 31 others were rescued when three ferry boats separately capsized in bad weather Saturday between two central Philippine island provinces, the coast guard said.

Police said at least seven people were missing after the inter-island ferries either turned over or sank in rough seas, wind and rain between Guimaras and Iloilo provinces. A search by the coast guard, police and villagers was underway.

The dead included six women and a man, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said, adding that one of the ferry boats, M/B Chichi, was carrying at least 42 passengers. Another boat, M/B Keizha, reportedly had four crewmen on board, while the third ferry, M/B Jenny, carried an unspecified number of people who were rescued and brought on board a coast guard ship, he said.

Video from ABS CBN TV network showed a rescuer carrying a child from a motorboat to an ambulance in an Iloilo pier, where frantic relatives waited.

Forecasters have warned of heavy monsoon rains and thunderstorms amid a brewing storm about 875 kilometres (544 miles) off the country’s eastern coast.

Classes and work have been suspended in the Manila metropolis amid heavy rains and flooding, which caused heavy traffic jams Friday in low-lying areas in the capital.

About 20 typhoons and storms batter the Philippines each year, making the archipelago that lies on the Pacific typhoon and earthquake belt one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world.

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