At least 36 were killed when a passenger ferry carrying 173 people on board capsized off the coast of the central Philippines province Leyte on July 2, according to the Philippines Coast Guard (PGC).

Local authorities have revealed the Kim Nirvana vessel was heading from the central city of Ormoc to the Island of Camotes when it capsized. Strong waves are said to be the cause of the accident.

Rescue boats picked up dozens of survivors who clung to the overturned hull of the vessel one kilometre from the Ormoc port. Divers are scouring the murky waters searching for survivors trapped inside the hull.

The PCG confirmed that as many as 118 people have rescued and 19 others are still missing.

The poorly-maintained and loosely-regulated ferries are believed to be the main reason behind frequent accidents in the Philippines, claiming hundreds of lives in recent years.-VNA