Ferry sinks in Philippines, killing at least 12

A Philippine ferry sank southeast of Manila early Thursday, killing least 12 people, officials said.

The army said at least 129 survivors had been accounted for hours after the MV Blue Water Princess, an inter-island ferry carrying passengers and cargo, sank off San Francisco in Quezon province, 220 kilometers (140 miles) southeast of Manila.

The initial chaos produced varying accounts on the number of casualties and passengers.

Army soldiers, who were the first to reach San Francisco, counted 126 survivors and eight dead in Pasangahan village, said Lt. Col. Rhoderick Parayno, spokesman for the army's Southern Luzon command.

An additional four dead and three survivors were located in the next town of San Andres, he said.

The coast guard reported eight dead, two missing and 50 rescued among a total of 60 passengers and 22 crew members, said spokesman Lt. Senior Grade Armando Balilo.

Balilo quoted the ship's owner and captain as saying the ferry ran aground, prompting panicked passengers to jump into the water.

Parayno said villagers reported the ship sank about 500 meters (yards) from shore.

Two army helicopters circled above the waters but found no trace of the ferry. They had to temporarily abandon the search due to bad weather, Parayno told The Associated Press.

The ferry had been on its way from Quezon's provincial capital, Lucena, to the central island of Masbate.

Leo Robledo, the coast guard operations chief in Lucena, said the ferry was authorized to carry 256 passengers. There were 28 passengers listed on the manifest, but the coast guard was checking apparent discrepancies in the numbers, he said.