A ferry with 251 people on board has capsized off the coast of Manila, a spokesperson for the Philippines coastguard said. At least four people were reported dead and 140 were rescued, local media reported.

Search and rescue operations are still underway, but are being hampered by heavy rain and waves caused by a tropical storm affecting the southern Philippines region, Reuters reported.

“We heard about casualties, but we are still trying to get a complete picture,” said coastguard spokesperson Armand Balilo.

The police said the vessel left a port in Real in northern Quezon (pictured above) around 10.30 am local time. The boat, hit by the bad weather, sank around 30 minutes later, local news website, the Inquirer, reported. Juanito Diaz, the acting disaster risk reduction and management council chief at Quezon, said, the boat had a large hole that caused it to sink.

Vessels that sail between the islands of the Philippines are prone to accidents as they are often overloaded, Reuters reported. But this one was not, Balilo said. The ferry had the capacity to carry 280 people.