A Philippine ferry carrying 173 passengers and 16 crew members capsized in Central Philippines Thursday, CDA News reported.
At least 124 people have been rescued, among them three American tourists-Rhome and Chip Nuttall and Larry Drake, the Coast Guard said.
Around 27 people are still missing after the 33-tonne, wooden-hulled Kim Nirvana tipped over shortly after setting sail from Ormoc city at midday, the coast guard said.
As of early Thursday evening, 127 people were known to have survived and rescuers were searching for 26 others, said a coast guard spokesman, Armand Balilo.
He says the additional bodies were found after a floating crane pulled the vessel closer to shore.
The Philippine Coast Guard rescues boat passengers after a ferry boat capsized in choppy waters, on Thursday, July 2, 2015, in Ornoc, Philippines.
Richard Gordon, the chairman of the Philippine Red Cross, said by telephone that the vessel had the capacity to carry 178 passengers and might have been overloaded.
Transportation officials, however, were quick to pin the blame on the boat captain.
“Among the things we will look into is if there was a faulty manoeuvre, the stability of the vessel, and of course the weather”, he added.
As of this posting, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other rescue teams have recovered 42 bodies from the bay.
The ferry was sailing towards the Camotes Islands, some 40 km south-west of Ormoc when it encountered giant waves and sank just 100 metres from the port of departure.
One of the passengers, Allan Lucero, said he was disappointed at first when his daughter refused to go back with him to Camotes Island, but when the motorized banca capsized, he was grateful she had not joined him.
Divers briefly stopped their search in the morning as the waters became choppy due to Tropical Storm Linfa, which was set to brush past the northern Philippines later today, said Chief Superintendent Asher Dolina, one of the ground commanders.
“There was a little wave, which is normal, but yesterday that caused the boat to flip to the right”, she said.
People in the Philippines rely on ferry services to get around its thousands of islands, but vessels are often poorly maintained, leading to scores of deaths at sea every year.
The country was the site of the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster when a ferry collided with an oil tanker days before Christmas in 1987, killing more than 4,300 people.
Numerous ferry disasters occur during the typhoon season between June and October, when strong winds also unleash deadly floods and landslides.