Coast guard personnel inspect the aftermath of a fire on board M/V Asia Philippines. AP
Only two passengers are unaccounted for and authorities are checking if the two are missing or had been rescued but immediately went home without notifying officials who led the search efforts Friday, the coast guard said. The M/V Asia Philippines was listed as carrying 49 passengers and 38 crewmembers.
Russia blocks adoption at UN of nuclear disarmament text
UN session on high seas biodiversity ends without agreement
The ferry, which came from Calapan city in Oriental Mindoro province, was more than a kilometre (about a mile) away from the Batangas port, when smoke emerged from the second deck followed by flames, according to one of the rescued passengers.
Smoke is seen from the M/V Asia Philippines as it caught fire while it was approaching Batangas port on Friday. AP
The ferry’s proximity to the port allowed the rapid rescue of the victims even after nightfall by coast guard vessels and nearby ships, motor bancas and tugboats. One ship helped the coast guard extinguish the fire, which gutted the ferry that also carried at least 16 cars and trucks, coast guard officials said.
Passenger Benedict Fernandez told DZMM radio Friday night that smoke and flames suddenly rose from the second deck as crew members were apparently trying to turn an engine on and off as the ferry approached the port. There was no immediate order to abandon ship, but when it became hard to see because of the smoke, he said he decided to jump into the water with his two children from the third deck, along with other passengers.
"I pushed my children off because if we didn’t jump from the top, we would really get burned because the soles of our feet were already feeling the heat,” Fernandez said.
They were rescued from the water by another boat that approached the burning ship and then transferred to a tugboat, which brought them to port, he said.
Rescuers assist a passenger of the M/V Asia Philippines as it caught fire while approaching Batangas port. AP
Pictures released by the coast guard showed its personnel trying to revive a rescued passenger, a 43-year-old woman, at the port before she was taken to a hospital with injuries. Fernandez said he and his two children, who were shaken by the experience, and other passengers were taken to a hotel by officials of the company that owned the ferry.
The ferry, which has been towed to an anchorage area, can carry about 400 passengers, the coast guard said, adding an investigation was underway. In the past, there have been instances when ferries carried unlisted passengers in defiance of regulations.
Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats, overcrowding and spotty enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.
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.
The ship caught fire just before reaching the port of Real in Quezon province, about 60km (37.28 miles) east of the capital Manila. It had left Polilio Island at 5am local time (2100 GMT Sunday) and made a distress call at 6:30am.
Search and rescue efforts were continuing after the fire on the M/V Lite Ferry 16 off Dapitan city in Zamboanga del Norte province, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.
Rescuers have deployed a helicopter and extended the search area to 20 nautical miles from where the boat sank in the search for the missing, Djunaidi said.
An eight months pregnant British-Indian woman, was among more than 700 former UK Post Office staff who were wrongly targeted, imprisoned, and classified using a "racial slur," according to fresh prosecution documents released to campaigners.
An Asian gang of 7 people lured victims who planned to invest in trading the digital currency "Bitcoin," and seized Dhs320,000 from 5 people, in addition to seizing other amounts estimated at $1 billion.
Sheikh Mohammed said on Twitter, “Today I received the employees of the Mohammed bin Rashid Housing Programme to thank them personally at Zabeel Palace… He who does not thank people does not thank God… I noticed a large number of comments praising their performance in various means of communication.”