A passenger ferry sank in the northern Philippines in a second sea disaster in three days. Six bodies, including three children, were recovered and at least 22 people were missing Sunday.
Search-and-rescue teams rescued at least 60 passengers and crew of the MV Baleno-9 and were scouring the seas for others still unaccounted for, a coast guard report said.
The latest ship disaster came after a Christmas Eve collision between a ferry and a fishing boat in which 24 were missing and feared dead and three bodies had been found by Sunday.
Admiral Wilfredo Tamayo quoted survivors from Sunday's accident as saying the ship took in water from the bow ramp, causing it to list before going under near Verde Island off Batangas province, south of the capital, Manila, late Saturday.
Tamayo said the bodies of three children were among the six bodies recovered.
There were conflicting counts of the number of missing people. The Philippine National Red Cross said 32 remained missing, while the coast guard said 22.
Officials earlier said 63 of the 88 people on board had been rescued, but some names were later found to have been listed twice, said Genalyn Nardo of the coast guard office in Oriental Mindoro province's Calapan city, from where the ferry set sail.
Survivor Eryss Glenn Musni, 14, told The Associated Press that he and his family were on their way home to northern Pampanga province after spending Christmas with his grandparents in central Ilolo city when the accident happened.
He said he became separated from his parents, five siblings and three other relatives when the ship tilted and panicked passengers rushed to jump off, many unable to get life vests.
"Everyone rushed to get out. Some pulled other people, and in the water, some grabbed other people so they would not drown," he said.
Musni said he and two strangers clung to a life preserver for an hour before they were rescued.
He said his mother and sister remained missing but other family members had been rescued.
The crew may have neglected to inspect the ship's doors before setting sail and some may have been left open, said Elena Bautista, head of the Maritime Industry Authority.
Officials: Ship not overloaded
Officials said the ship had a capacity of 284 passengers and was not overloaded. Transport and Communications Secretary Leandro Mendoza ordered the immediate suspension of operations of the ferry's owner, Besta Shipping Lines.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of tropical storms, badly maintained boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.
On Christmas Eve, a wooden-hulled ferry with 73 people on board collided with a fishing vessel near the mouth of Manila Bay.
Twenty-four people remain missing, 46 were rescued and three died in what officials say was an accident likely caused by human error. Coast guard officials said they feared most of those missing were dead, but they held out hope some may have drifted to nearby shores.
Last year, a ferry overturned after sailing toward a powerful typhoon in the central Philippines, killing more than 800 people on board.
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.