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Page last updated at 03:22 GMT, Monday, 15 December 2008

Deaths as Philippines ferry sinks

A wooden ferry carrying about 100 passengers has sunk in the Philippines, with at least 22 people drowned and about another 30 missing.

The ferry Maejan was approaching Aparri in Cagayan province in the north of the country when its bamboo outrigger broke in heavy seas off Ballesteros.

Passengers panicked and some leapt into the sea, creating instability on the vessel, which then capsized.

Police said many survivors swam ashore and were found shivering on land.

"They panicked and grabbed anything like water container that will keep them afloat then jumped off the boat," Senior Inspector Alex de los Santos told the Associated Press news agency.

Among the bodies recovered late on Sunday was that of an unidentified one-year-old boy.

"There were no relatives. Most probably his parents perished with him," said Mr de los Santos.

Maritime accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago due to tropical weather, badly maintained passenger boats and weak enforcement of safety regulations.

Hundreds of people were killed in June, when a 23,000-tonne ferry - Princess of the Stars - capsized during a typhoon off the central island of Sibuyan.

Only 57 passengers and crew of the 850 people aboard survived the accident, making it the worst maritime disaster in the Philippines for 20 years.

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