A passenger ferry with about 964 people aboard tilted on Sunday in the high seas off southern Philippines, prompting the captain to order passengers and crew to abandon ship, officials said.
The ship was carrying 847 passengers and 117 crew. It left the southern city of General Santos on Saturday and was on its way to the central city of Iloilo.
The Superferry 9 issued a distress signal as it listed to the right off Zamboanga Peninsula, about 870 km south of Manila, before dawn on Sunday.
Jess Supan, Superferry vice president for safety and security, said the shipping firm and the coast guard have dispatched ships to help the distressed vessel and rescue the people on board.
"So far all people are reportedly safe," he told a Manila radio station. "The crew are doing all they can to correct the listing. It was initially listing at 40 degrees to the right, now it is down to 35 degrees."
"The captain declared abandon ship and this is more of a precautionary measure instead of waiting for the vessel to topple over," he said. "Everybody was given his or her life jackets. There is a very good chance that everyone will be rescued."
Sea travel is a major mode of transportation in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands.
In June 2008, a passenger ferry sank off the central Philippines at the height of Typhoon Fengshen, drowning more than 800 passengers.
The country was the site of the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster in 1987, when more than 4,000 people perished in a collision between the ferry Dona Paz and an oil tanker off the central island of Mindoro just before Christmas.