Boat capsizes in Philippines
A photo shows the capsized boat near central Philippines.Twitter/ABS-CBN News Channel

A boat carrying over 170 passengers capsized off Ormoc City in central Philippines on Thursday. At least 36 people were feared drowned.

A rescue operation was on to look for over 20 other passengers reported missing. 

The boat Kim Nirvana was heading to Camotes Island with 173 people on board, according to Philippines' ABS-CBN News Channel.

118 people have reportedly been rescued.

It was not clear what caused the boat to capsize. 

"We are checking the possibility that there as an error in the manoeuvre of the boat that resulted in it capsizing," Coast guard spokesman Commander Armand Balilo told Channel NewsAsia.

Ciriaco Tolibao, an official from the Ormoc' city's disaster risk reduction and management office, told AFP that the boat had capsized 30 minutes after it left for Camotes island.