Ferry carrying 251 people sinks off the northern Philippines

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A ferry carrying 251 people is sinking after it capsized off an island in the northern Philippines, killing an unknown number of people, local officials say. Search and rescue operations are continuing for dozens of people.

The ferry, identified as the MV Mercraft 3, was heading to Polillo island off Luzon island when it encountered severe weather and high waves. The vessel had left the town of Real in Quezon province at about 8:30 a.m. local time on Thursday.

The route between Real and Polillo island is only 38 kilometers (23 miles). The coast guard said 251 people were on board the ferry for the inter-island service. The vessel had a maximum capacity of 286 passengers.

Authorities confirmed that a number of people had been killed, but specific figures were not immediately available as the rescue operation was still underway as of 5 p.m. Philippine media reported that at least 4 bodies had been recovered and said 129 people had been rescued.

Other details were not immediately available.

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