21 dead, others missing after passenger boat capsizes in Rizal, Philippines

21 dead, others missing after passenger boat capsizes in Rizal, Philippines

Rescuers work to locate passengers who may have become trapped in the overturned passenger boat Princess Aya after it capsized in Laguna Lake in Rizal province, Philippines, on July 27, 2023. (Photo: Philippine Coast Guard)

Twenty-one people were killed while an undetermined number have gone missing after a boat believed to be carrying over 70 passengers capsized in a lake in the Philippine province of Rizal on Thursday, July 27.

Initial reports stated that the banca-type outrigger passenger boat Princess Aya had earlier departed Talim Island and was en route to Binangonan municipality when it overturned just 45 metres from the shore at around 13:00 local time on Thursday.

The incident occurred as the area was experiencing strong winds and rough waves brought about by Typhoon Doksuri as it moved northwards in the South China Sea just off Luzon Island.

A search and rescue (SAR) operation by the Philippine Coast Guard, the Philippine National Police, and other local agencies led to the recovery of 40 survivors and 21 bodies from the surrounding waters. The fatalities also include two female passengers who were found unconscious but were later pronounced deceased in hospital.

Officials added that the SAR effort was temporarily halted due to deteriorating visibility on Thursday evening but will resume the following morning to attempt to locate at least nine other people who were on the boat when it capsized.

A coast guard official said an inquiry has been launched to determine whether the boat was overloaded and whether the crew had provided enough lifejackets to the passengers.

Investigators said that the bad weather had caused panic among some of the passengers, compelling them all to move to one side of the boat. One of the outriggers then snapped as it was unable to withstand the sudden significant increase in weight, and this caused the boat to overturn shortly afterwards.

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