A ferry carrying nearly 1,000 passengers sank in the southern Philippines early Sunday, leaving at least nine dead and more than 30 missing.
The Superferry 9 began to list before dawn about nine miles off Zamboanga del Norte province, rousing terrified passengers from their sleep and sending many jumping into the water, coast guard chief Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo said.
Rescuers transferred 900 of 968 passengers and crewmen to two nearby commercial ships, a navy gunboat and a fishing boat, he said. A search continued for 33 people who remained missing, Tamayo said.
“We really hope they’re just unaccounted for due to the confusion,” Tamayo said.
A coast guard statement said rescue efforts were continuing through the night.
The cause of the listing was not clear. The ferry skipper initially ordered everyone on board to abandon ship as a precautionary step, said Jess Supan, vice president of Aboitiz Transport System, which owns the steel-hulled ferry.
There were reports the 7,268-ton vessel listed to the right because of a hole in the hull, the National Disaster Coordinating Council said.