MANILA - At least 17 people were killed but hundreds were rescued after a passenger ferry sank following a collision with a cargo vessel in the central Philippines, a coastguard commander said.
"We don't know if there are still people missing," Rear Admiral Luis Tuason told local radio early on Saturday, citing a discrepancy between the actual numbers killed or rescued and the ferry's manifest, which showed 692 crew and passengers on board.
Tuason, the acting chief of the coast guard, said 690 people were rescued, but coast guard officials on Cebu island, the site of the accident, said only 575 people were brought ashore. They said officials had counted 17 bodies and that two coast guard vessels and a naval ship would continue to search for more survivors overnight.
The figures could not be immediately reconciled.
The 40-year-old ferry, St Thomas of Aquinas, is allowed to carry up to 904 passengers. It sank minutes after colliding with the cargo vessel about a kilometre (a half mile) off Cebu around 9 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Friday.