Seven Dead and More Than 100 Rescued in Philippine Ferry Fire

MANILA – At least seven people were killed and more than a hundred were rescued Monday after a passenger ferry caught fire in the Philippines, the latest maritime tragedy to hit the archipelago.

Mercraft 2 was carrying 124 passengers and 10 crew members as it departed from Polillo Island for Port Real in Quezon province at dawn when the crash occurred, the Coast Guard said. Officials said the fire quickly engulfed the ferry, forcing its passengers to jump into the sea.

“Seven people have died,” Commodore Coast Guard spokesman Armand Balilo confirmed, adding that all the dead were passengers: five men and two women. “Rescue operations are continuing until we have cleared all the passengers.”

Commodore Balilo said the ship’s captain was among those rescued. A team of investigators was at the scene to determine the cause of the fire. About 120 people had been rescued as of mid-morning on Monday.

Boating accidents are common in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands where sea travel is the cheapest means of transport. In 2017, a ship of the same company that owns Mercraft 2 was involved in a maritime accident off the coast of Quezon province, killing four passengers.

That ship, the Mercraft 3, was carrying 251 people when it sank off the coast of Infanta, not far from where Monday’s crash occurred.

In 2008, at least 800 people were killed when the Princess of the Stars capsized during a storm in the central Philippines, while a 1987 collision between the ferry Dona Paz and an oil tanker killed more than 4,300, in which is considered one of the world’s victims. worst peacetime maritime disaster.

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