Fire on passenger ferry kills 28 people

Dousing the flames: Philippine Coast Guard putting out fire onboard ‘MV Lady Mary Joy 3’ at the waters off Baluk-Baluk Island, Hadji Muhtamad, Basilan. — Reuters

At least 28 people have died including a six-month old baby after a fire broke out on an inter-island passenger ferry in the southern Philippine, the coast guard said.

Authorities have yet to identify the cause of the fire that started close to 11pm local time on Wednesday off the island of Basilan, when many of the passengers were asleep in air-conditioned cabins on the ferry’s lower deck.

“Initially there were 10 we recovered, they died of drowning. And then we discovered another 18 on board the vessel, at the cabin. They were totally burnt,” said Commodore Rejard Marfe, coast guard chief in the southern Mindanao region, yesterday.

There were conflicting figures on the number of passengers on the ferry, which was not overloaded, but the coast guard said 230 people including 35 crew were rescued.

Marfe earlier said most were sleeping at that time of the fire, adding “there was chaos”.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control early yesterday.

Photos shared by the Coast Guard showed the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 ship gutted by fire.

“I thought I was dreaming but when I opened my eyes, it was dark and we were surrounded by smoke,” Mina Nani, 46, told DZRH.

She said she survived by jumping off the vessel and shared a floater with another passenger before they were rescued. — Reuters

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