31 die after three ferry boats capsize as bad weather battered Philippines (Updated)

epa07755750 A handout photo made available by the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) shows a PCG responder carrying a sea accident victim after boats capsized in waters off the coasts of Iloilo City and Guimaras province, Visayas Region, Philippines 03 August 2019 (issued 04 August 2019). Data from investigating authorities show that 26 passengers were killed after three motorized boats capsized on 03 August amid bad weather conditions in waters between Iloilo and Guimaras. EPA-EFE/PHILIPPINE COAST GUARD HANDOUT -- BEST QUALITY AVAILABLE -- HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

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Three ferry boats capsized after being buffeted by fierce winds and waves off two central Philippine provinces, bringing the death toll to 31, a coast guard official said.

The motorised, wooden-hulled boats were carrying a total 96 passengers and crew when harsh weather conditions caused the vessels to overturn off the central island of Guimaras and Iloilo provinces on Saturday.

Survivors recounted how the sky suddenly turned dark midway on their trip followed by strong winds and rain that battered their ferries.

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Authorities wondered why a third ferry was allowed to sail about three hours after two other ferries overturned almost at the same time at noon in bad weather.

Forecasters have warned of heavy monsoon rains, thunderstorms and rain-triggered landslides amid a tropical depression more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) off the country’s eastern coast.

Classes and work were suspended in metropolitan Manila on Friday and Saturday amid heavy rains and flooding, which caused intense traffic jams in low-lying areas of 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 world’s most disaster-prone countries.

 via AP / Reuters

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