Philippine ferry fire kills 7, rescues 120


MANILA, PHILIPPINES (AP) — At least seven people were killed and most of the passengers and crew were rescued after a fire broke out on a ferry carrying more than 130 people as it approached the northeastern province of the Philippines on Monday, Coast Guard said.

A fire broke out while M/V Mercraft 2 was approaching the port of Real Town, Quezon province, from Polillo Island, leaving at least seven people missing and 23 injured, including the captain, to hospitals.

Coast Guard officials said many of the 134 passengers and crew were forced to plunge into the water and the rest were rescued by a nearby vessel.

The fire appears to have started in the engine room, officials said. The fire was extinguished and the wreckage was towed to the shores of Real.

The photos released by the Coast Guard showed a fire engulfing a passenger ship and black smoke rising from the ship. On stretchers, the injured survivors were taken to a waiting ambulance, and rescuers attempted to resuscitate the unconscious survivor by pressing on the chest.

In the Philippine Islands, maritime accidents are common due to frequent storms, poorly maintained boats, overcrowding and weak enforcement of safety regulations. In December 1987, the Dona Paz passenger ship collided with an oil tanker and sank, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

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