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Seven Dead, More Than A Hundred Rescued As Fire Rips Through A Ferry In The Philippines (Photos)

At least seven people were killed and more than a hundred rescued after a fire spread through a ferry in the Philippines early Monday, the coast guard said.

The Mercraft 2 was ferrying 124 people to Real in Quezon province from Polillo Island when the accident happened. Search and rescue operations were ongoing Monday morning.

Inter-island ferries are the backbone of transportation in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands.

The fibreglass fast craft boat, which had a 186-person capacity, was about a kilometre from Real when it caught fire.

“We heard an explosion,” said Kycel Pineda, 18, who was travelling on another ferry.

“When we saw the boat, it was already engulfed by fire and passengers were already floating in the sea,” the high school student added.

Thick black smoke billowed from the Mercraft as flames tore through the entire vessel, photos shared by the coast guard showed.

People with life rings and life vests were in the water. Some were rescued by other ferries or clambered into inflatable boats.

The fire appears to have started in the engine room, Balilo said. A team of investigators was preparing to look into the cause.

“We were able to rescue 40 survivors,” said Captain Brunette Azagra, whose passenger vessel was 500 metres from the Mercraft when the fire broke out. Two bodies were also pulled from the water, he added.

“They were lucky, because we also came from Polillo. They overtook us, but we were just nearby,” Azagra told a local radio station, describing sea conditions as “quite good”.

Twenty-four people were injured, including the captain of the ferry, according to the coast guard.

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