Scores rescued after deadly fire engulfs Philippine ferry

Basilio Sepe
2022.05.23
Manila
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Scores rescued after deadly fire engulfs Philippine ferry A burning Philippine ferry is seen from aircraft in the waters off Quezon province, Luzon Island, Philippines, May 23, 2022.
[Handout photo/Philippine Coast Guard]

At least seven passengers died and all 127 other people were rescued after they jumped overboard when a ferry caught fire in the northeastern Philippines on Monday, in the latest sea mishap in the Southeast Asian country.

A Mercraft 2 ferry with 134 passengers and crew members was sailing from the port of Polillo Island to Quezon province on Luzon Island when the blaze broke out aboard the ship after dawn, the Philippine Coast Guard said.

“The PCG received a distress call regarding the said incident at 06.30 a.m.,” the coast guard said in a statement. “Immediately, the PCG deployed search and rescue teams to assist the 126 passengers and eight crew members on board.”

Photographs provided by the coast guard showed passengers with life vests in the water as flames engulfed the vessel.

“Seven passengers died in the incident,” the coast guard said.

Coast guard spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said five male and two female passengers perished in the fire.

PH-inside.jpg

Passengers are seen being rescued from the sea after they jumped off a Mercraft 2 passenger ferry that caught fire off of Quezon province in Luzon Island, Philippines, May 23, 2022. [Handout photo/Philippine Coast Guard]

A common occurrence

Maritime accidents are frequent in the Philippines, an archipelagic country of more than 7,100 islands, where inter-island ferries are the backbone of transportation.

This was not the first time that a vessel from the company that operates the Mercraft ferries had dealt with an accident.

In 2017, a Mercraft 2 sank off the coast of Infanta, also in Quezon province, with 251 people aboard, four of whom drowned. The ferry line was suspended briefly from operating, but subsequently allowed to resume services.

In 1987, passenger ferry Doña Paz collided with the MT Vector, an oil tanker carrying more than 1,000 tons of gasoline and other petroleum products off Tablas Strait in the central Philippines.

More than 4,300 passengers and crew were killed in that incident that is believed to be the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

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