At least 36 people are reported dead and 127 have been rescued after a ferry overturned in rough waters at 12.50pm local time in the Philippines, news network GMA News reported on 2 July.

The ferry, named Kim Nirvana, was carrying 173 passengers and 16 crew members and capsized around 200 meters off shore shortly after leaving Ormoc City in Leyte Province. The accident called for an extensive search and rescue operation.

Based on information provided by the Philippines Coast Guard, GMA News reported that 26 passengers are still missing as the operation continues. 118 passengers have been saved by rescue workers who used rubber boats to take survivors to safety.

PCG spokeswoman Geraldine Galleposo told the New York Times: "According to initial reports, there were strong currents prevailing in the area."

The PCG also said that the captain of the Kim Nirvana turned to open sea and did not expect the high waves. The organisation added that, although high waves were reported, the sea was "managable", and it is exploring the possibility of a human error.

The ferry's destination was Pilar Island, which is around 14 miles from Ormoc.

The boat, has been identified as a motor banca, a canoe-shaped passenger ship with outriggers on both sides, which is a popular boat for passenger transport in the Philippines.

The banca not overloaded as it could carry a total of 178 passengers. Maritime safety, however, has been a big issue in the country.

The AP reported that survivors felt the bow of the ship suddenly surged upwards, after which the boat fell to its side and started sinking. The rescue operation included divers with flashlights who tried to beat the heavy weather to save passengers, which included a small child who was saved.