ORMOC, Philippines, July 3 (UPI) -- Dozens were killed in the Philippines on Thursday when a crowded ferry carrying nearly 200 people abruptly capsized -- just minutes after it left port, authorities said.
The MB Nirvana departed Ormoc City headed for Camotes Island at about noon local time Thursday when the disaster occurred, CNN reported late Thursday.
According to officials, 173 passengers and 14 crew were aboard the vessel. By late Thursday, the Philippine Red Cross said at least 38 were killed, 134 survived and 15 remain missing. Three American citizens were among the survivors, CNN's report said.
The cause of the sinking is not yet known, but officials said the boat overturned in rough waters and strong winds.
"The winds are really bad, and the seas are really bad," Philippine Red Cross Chairman Richard Gordon said. He also said officials wanted to get a helicopter involved with the rescue but couldn't due to poor visibility in bad weather conditions.
The capsized ferry is described as a banka or "pump boat," which is a popular craft in the Philippines similar to a canoe outfitted with outriggers and a small engine.
Rough waters and torrential rains are regular occurrences in the Philippines this time of year, which is officially classified as monsoon season.