The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said at least seven people were killed on the ferry that crashed near the port of Real on the morning of May 23.
The Philippine ferry Mercraft 2 encountered a fire at about 6:30 a.m. while traveling from the town of Polillo, on Pollilo Island, to the port town of Real, in Quezon province, nearly 176 km southeast of the capital Manila. The ferry carried 134 passengers and crew. According to PCG and witnesses, the fire broke out forcing many passengers to jump into the sea.
Pictures provided by PCG showed thick black smoke rising as flames engulfed the entire ferry, while many passengers wearing life jackets remained underwater, some being rescued by other ferries or inflatable boats. The Mercraft 2 ferry has a capacity of 186 people.
PCG Commodore spokesman Armando Balilo said the fire may have started in the engine room, and an investigation team will look into the cause. Seven people were killed in the incident, at least 23 injured people are being treated at the hospital, including the captain. A total of 120 people were rescued and 7 were missing.
Ricky Poblete, an employee of the town of Real’s disaster and incident management department, said the Mercraft 2 ferry crashed about 7 km from the port. The fire was under control, and the burned wreckage was pulled ashore.
“We heard an explosion,” said Kycel Pineda, 18, a passenger on a neighboring ferry. “When turning to Mercraft 2, the ferry was engulfed in fire and there were many passengers floating at sea.”
“We saved 40 survivors and recovered two bodies,” said Brunette Azagra, captain of the ferry 500 meters from Mecraft 2, describing sea conditions as “pretty good.
According to AFP, the Philippines, a country of more than 7,000 islands, is struggling with a poor maritime transport system when the management of ships is not tight, prone to overloading and accidents.
Duc Trung (Theo AFP)