MANILA, Philippines (AP) — At least 21 people died and 40 others were rescued after a Philippine passenger boat overturned on Thursday when it was lashed by strong winds in Laguna Lake southeast of Manila, police said.
Police said rescue operations were continuing, but did not immediately provide figures for the total number of people on board the MBCA Princess Aya that capsized in Rizal province.
The incident happened as the passengers onboard suddenly moved to one side of the boat in panic when it came under fierce winds shortly after departing from a wharf for a nearby island. The boat overturned only about 46 meters (150 feet) from the shore, near the village of Kalinawan and the town of Binangonan, the coast guard said.
The Rizal provincial police said they immediately launched a search and rescue operation with the help of the coast guard and other local authorities, and that at least 40 people were saved but that 21 others drowned.
“The operation is still ongoing,” police said. They did not provide other details like how many passengers and crewmembers were on board.
A video released by the coast guard showed rescuers on a local government boat pulling a body out of the lake. Another video showed local fishermen aboard vessels approaching the overturned boat.
Typhoon Doksuri moved away Thursday after battering the northern Philippines and whipping up seasonal monsoon rains in a large swath of the archipelago.
The sinking on Thursday brought the death toll from a week of stormy weather across the main island of Luzon to at least 30. At least nine people were reported killed earlier, mostly due to landslides, flooding and toppled trees and thousands were displaced, disaster response officials said.
Sea travel was suspended in many ports during Doksuri’s onslaught from Tuesday to Wednesday, stranding thousands of passengers and cargo trucks. The no-sail orders were gradually lifted on Thursday as weather improved in many areas.
Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said the passenger boat had been cleared to sail from the town of Binangonan to the nearby Talim Island because the typhoon had blown out of the country.
At least four northern provinces remained under cyclone wind alert, banning fishing boats and smaller vessels from venturing out to sea. Rains, however, continued to swamp several towns and cities farther south, including in the densely populated capital region, metropolitan Manila, which lies to the west of Rizal province.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats, overcrowding and weak enforcement of safety regulations. In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.