Seven killed as passengers forced to jump from burning ferry in Philippines

·2-min read

At least seven people died after passengers were forced to jump from a ferry on fire off the coast of the north-east Philippines on Monday, according to the country’s coastguard.

Another 24 people were injured.

The high-speed vessel, MV Mercraft 2, with more than 130 passengers onboard was engulfed in flames shortly after it set sail on Monday morning.

Pictures showed a large, bright orange fireball erupting into the sky and plumes of thick black smoke emanating from the vessel. Several passengers were seen swimming or floating in the water as resuce crews raced to their help.

Some of the passengers died from drowning after being forced to jump into the waters.

The vessel departed from Polillo Island in the northeast region of the archipelago to anchor in the town of Real in Quezon province, almost 60 miles east of Manila. The fire was controlled almost five hours after it began.

People throwing buckets of water onto a smouldering ferry (Philippine Coastguard/AFP via Ge)
People throwing buckets of water onto a smouldering ferry (Philippine Coastguard/AFP via Ge)

The coastguard said all those missing have been accounted for and 24 people were injured who were rushed to a hospital.

“Fishing boats and other vessels were able to approach quickly and everybody helped, so the rescue was fast,” Mr Portales said.

He said that many of those rescued were in shock and were given treatment for their burn injuries along with dry clothes and shoes.

Five women and two men died.

M/V Mercraft 2 after it was towed to an island (AP)
M/V Mercraft 2 after it was towed to an island (AP)

The fire is being invested, officials said.

The cause of the fire is not known yet. However, this is not the first time the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, had a maritime disaster. The country has a poor history of such incidents with ageing and overcrowded vessels.

A 1987 tragedy which was dubbed “Asia’s Titanic” in a National Geographic documentary is one of the world’s worst peacetime shipping disasters. Almost 5,000 people died in the overloaded passenger ferry Dona Paz which collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro island south of the capital, Manila.

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