MANILA, Philippines (AP) — All 120 passengers and crew members aboard a Philippine ferry that caught fire at sea on Sunday were rescued safely and the fire was extinguished, the coast guard said.
The M/V Esperanza Star caught fire at dawn while traveling from Siquijor province to Bohol province in the central Philippines with 65 passengers and 55 crewmembers, the coast guard said. It added that it deployed two vessels for rescue and to help put out the flames, which raged for more than five hours.
Photos and video released by the coast guard show flames and black smoke billowing from two decks at one end of the ferry as coast guard personnel onboard another vessel used a water cannon to try to put out the fire. A fishing boat and one other vessel could be seen nearby.
None of the 65 passengers and 55 crew members could be seen aboard the burning ferry based on the photographs and video released by the coast guard.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained vessels, overcrowding and spotty enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.
In March, a fire broke out and raged overnight on a ferry carrying about 250 people and killed at least 31 passengers and crew members off the southern island province of Basilan, the coast guard said.
In 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.