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34 rescued, 1 reported dead after Philippine ferry sinks with 60 aboard

An inter-island ferry with about 60 people on board sank in the central Philippines early Friday, and coast guard said that 34 people have been rescued so far. One death has been reported.

The ferry left Pio Duran port in Albay province and sank three hours later at about 5 a.m. near Burias Island, about 12 miles away across a strait.

A woman died, said coast guard spokesman Cmdr. Arman Balilo. The ferry's manifesto listed 35 passengers and 22 crew.

"We could no longer see the ferry. It appears to have sunk," coast guard Seaman 1st Class John Michael Mandane told radio station DZBB.

The weather in the area was calm and apparently did not cause the sinking, according to the ferry's captain, who was among those rescued.

Coast guard and navy vessels and helicopters were taking part in the search and rescue and were aided by local fishermen. At least three survivors drifted to the shore and were picked up by fishermen, Balilo said.

Balilo said the ferry had two buses and one truck aboard.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.