At least 12 dead after ferry fire in the Philippines

A ferry carrying about 250 passengers and crew caught fire between the Philippine islands, killing at least 12 people and seven still missing, a provincial governor said.

Many of those rescued jumped from the ferry in a panic at the height of the fire and were pulled from the sea by the coast guard, navy, another ferry and local fishermen, said Gov. Jim Hataman of the southern island province of Basilan. The search and rescue effort was continuing Thursday.

The governor said most of the people aboard the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 were rescued overnight, but authorities were double-checking the numbers from different rescue teams, suggesting the figures could change.

Hataman said the ferry was heading to the city of Jolo in Sulu province from the southern port city of Zamboanga when it caught fire halfway to Basilan around midnight.

Philippine ferry fire
Most of those who died drowned and were recovered at sea, authorities said (Philippine Coast Guard via AP)

Among the dead were at least three children, who were apparently separated from their parents, and at least 23 passengers were injured and taken to hospital.

“Some of the passengers woke up from their sleep due to the commotion caused by the fire. Some jumped ship,” Hataman told The Associated Press.

Most of those who died drowned and were recovered at sea, authorities said.

The burned-out ferry has been towed to the Basilan coast and an investigation is underway, Hataman said.

Maritime accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago due to frequent storms, shabby ships, overcrowding and irregular enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.

In December 1987, the ferry Doña Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.


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