On Thursday, a ferry carrying around 250 passengers and crew caught fire between Philippine islands, resulting in at least 12 deaths and seven individuals still missing, according to a provincial governor.
Many individuals were rescued after jumping off the ferry in a panic during the height of the fire and were rescued by the coast guard, navy, another ferry, and local fishermen, said Governor Jim Hataman of the southern island province of Basilan. The search and rescue operation is still ongoing as of Thursday.
Hataman stated that most of the passengers on the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 were rescued overnight, but authorities are double-checking the numbers from various rescue teams, indicating that the figures may change.
The ferry caught fire midway off Basilan, near midnight, while en route to Jolo town in Sulu province from the southern port city of Zamboanga, he added.
The deceased included at least three children, who were apparently separated from their parents, and several passengers were injured and taken to hospitals, according to him.
“Some of the passengers were woken up due to the commotion caused by the fire. Some jumped off the ship,” Hataman informed The Associated Press over the phone.
According to officials, most of the drowned victims were found at sea after the incident. The burned ferry has been pulled to Basilan’s shore, and an inquiry is ongoing, according to Hataman.