ferry fire Philippines

Passenger ferry catches fire in southern Philippines

At least 26 people were killed when a passenger ferry caught fire in Basilan province of the Philippines’ southern Bangsamoro Autonomous Region, local media reported on Thursday.

The vessel caught fire late Wednesday night near Baluk-Baluk island, two hours after leaving the port of Zamboanga City, the local media outlet INQUIRER.net reported, citing a Coast Guard official.

Basilan Governor Hadjiman Hataman-Salliman told local media that the death toll had risen to 26 after the Philippine Coast Guard discovered 13 charred bodies inside the stricken M/V Lady Mary Joy 3 of Aleson Shipping Lines.

Four bodies were first recovered from the sea, then nine more, and finally 13, from inside the ferry, he explained.

Local authorities have rescued 297 people since last night, including 35 crew members, according to Salliman, who added that an investigation is underway and that the cause of the fire is currently unknown.

“We were breaking our fast when our people in Baluk-Baluk called up informing us there was a boat on fire. We immediately responded and proceeded to the area,” the media outlet said, quoting a local resident Nanoh.

Among the rescued passengers were soldiers who were on their way to report for duty in Sulu, she added.

A video on social media shows that a large portion of the vessel was destroyed by the fire, and authorities have now pulled it ashore.

Source: AA

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