At least 36 people are dead and 26 others missing after a ferry carrying 189 passengers capsized on Thursday in the Philippines, according to coast guard officials.
The boat flipped over as it left a central Philippine port in choppy waters, and officials have said that at least 127 passengers of the MB Karma Nirvana were rescued by nearby fishing boats and coast guard personnel, or swam to safety off Ormoc City on Leyte Island.
Gwendolyn Pang, secretary general of the Philippine National Red Cross, told VICE News that teams from her organization who are currently out helping search and rescue efforts are struggling in the bad weather.
"It's a challenge finding people unaccounted for because the weather is so bad. There's very heavy rain,' Pang said.
'Now is a good opportunity to review our maritime industry.'
Pang — who is in touch with authorities — said that most of the people traveling on the boat were locals travelling to a different island. They are still working out if any foreigners were involved in the incident.
According to coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo, the ferry was leaving Ormoc for the Camotes Islands, about 27 miles to the south, when it was lashed by strong waves.
Pang told VICE News that around 170 sea emergencies are dealt with each year in the Philippines, and called for a review of the maritime industry.
"It's high time we had a review on the component of the safety of passengers in the maritime industry because of the number of sea emergencies that we have," she continued.
"For this particular incident we cannot confirm the exact reason why this happened. It may be that they did not foresee the weather or there were a lack of weather updates. We're still trying to find out the exact reason. But now is a good opportunity to review our maritime industry."
Image via Flickr
The Associated Press contributed to this report.