Philippine ferry carrying 82 people catches fire; 73 rescued

MANILA: A Philippine Ferry carrying 82 passengers and crew caught fire as it was approaching a southern port Manila on Friday, and at least 73 of those on board were rescued, including many who jumped into the water, coast guard and survivors said.
Search and rescue efforts continued after nightfall for the passengers and crew of M/V Asia Philippines, an inter-island passenger and cargo ship arriving from nearby. Calapan city ​​in Oriental Mindoro province, the coast guard said.
A 44-year-old woman was among those rescued who were taken to hospital with unspecified injuries.
Coast guard officials said video released by the coast guard showed flames and black smoke rising from the ferry, near other ships more than a kilometer (about a kilometer) from the mooring area of ​​Batangas port. mile).
They said one ship helped the coast guard put out the blaze. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear.
Passenger Benedict Fernandez told DZMM radio that smoke and fire suddenly rose from the second deck as crew members appeared to be trying to turn the engines on and off as the ferry approached the port. There was no immediate order to abandon the ship, but when it became difficult to see because of the smoke, he said he decided to jump into the water with two of them from the third deck, along with other passengers.
“I pushed my kids away because if we didn’t jump from the top, we would really burn because the soles of our feet were already feeling hot,” Fernandez said.
They were rescued from the water by another boat approaching the burning ship and then transferred to a tugboat to take them into port, he said.
The ferry, carrying 48 passengers, 34 crew and 16 vehicles, can carry about 400 passengers, the coast guard said. In the past, there have been cases of ferries carrying passengers illegally.
Accidents at sea are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, poorly maintained boats, overloading and poor enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.
December 1987, the ferry Dona 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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