MANILA, PHILIPPINES — At least 12 people died and 230 were rescued after a fire engulfed a ferry in the southern Philippines, authorities said Thursday.
The Lady Mary Joy 3 was travelling from Zamboanga City on Mindanao Island to Jolo Island in Sulu province when the fire broke out late Wednesday, prompting passengers to jump overboard, disaster officer Nixon Alonzo said.
Rescuers, including the Philippine Coast Guard and fishermen, saved 195 passengers and 35 crew as the blaze ripped through the ferry off Baluk-Baluk Island in Basilan province.
Fourteen people were injured and seven were still missing.
Basilan Governor Jim Salliman said there could be more people missing because the number of passengers on the vessel exceeded the 205 listed in the ship’s manifest.
“Twelve cadavers have been retrieved… three of them are children, including a six-month-old baby,” Salliman told AFP.
“Probably there are passengers who didn’t register in the manifest.”
It was not clear how the fire started.
Survivors were taken to Zamboanga and Basilan where the injured received treatment for burns, Salliman said.
Photos released by the coast guard showed one of its vessels spraying water on the burning ferry as its personnel in smaller boats plucked passengers from the dark waters.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with its badly regulated ferries prone to overcrowding and accidents.