MANILA, Philippines – A passenger boat that capsized during a storm, drowning 11 people just 200 yards offshore, left a port in the central Philippines without clearance, the coast guard said Friday.
Half an hour into a short journey Thursday afternoon, the engine failed, then strong winds and high waves caused the boat to break up and overturn, within the sight of its destination at Bagongon islet, the coast guard said in a statement.
Eleven people died and rescuers pulled out 30 survivors, while three remained missing, the statement said. Search and rescue operations resumed early Friday after the storm cleared, and a notice was sent out to all vessels in the area to be on the lookout for survivors.
The coast guard said the motorized outrigger left Concepcion Feeder port in Iloilo province Thursday ignoring a ban on sailing imposed because of the approaching storm.
Raul Banas, former mayor of Concepcion, said the boat normally carries 30 passengers. Commercial vessels are often overloaded.
Capt. Eduardo Fabricante, coast guard chief of Iloilo city, said earlier that the boat's operator may have not received the storm warning in time. An investigation was under way.
The tropical depression that battered the Visayas region with winds of 34 miles per hour and gusts of up to 44 mph moved on to the South China Sea on Friday. It was forecast to make landfall in Vietnam this weekend.
The same storm earlier forced the suspension of a search for eight people still missing from Tuesday's ferry accident off Masbate island, northeast of Iloilo, in which at least 42 drowned. There were 100 survivors, and the captain was detained on charges of operating the crowded vessel illegally.
He has denied the charges.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.
In June, the 23,800-ton Princess of the Stars ferry overturned during a typhoon close to Romblon province, near Masbate, killing more than 800 people on board.
The discovery of several drums of toxic chemicals held up the retrieval of bodies inside the ship until several weeks ago.