Philippine ferry catches fire at sea, 7 dead

Baku, May 23, AZERTAC

A ferry with 124 passengers and 10 crew members on board caught fire on Monday while traveling to a town in Quezon province on the main Luzon island, leaving at least seven dead, a spokesperson for the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said, according to Xinhua.

Commodore Armand Balilo said the vessel Mercraft 2 left at 5:00 a.m. local time in Polillo, an island town in the province, and was heading to a port of Real town when it caught fire around 6:30 a.m. local time approximately 900 meters from the port.

The blaze forced passengers and crew to jump into the sea. Balilo said at least 120 people were rescued from the sea and three were critically injured.

"Rescue operation is still ongoing (for the four unaccounted people)," Balilo said.

Photos and videos of the incident provided by the PCG showed a blaze engulfing the boat and people scampering to leave the burning ferry onto a raft. Another photo showed people clinging to floating objects and ropes. A video also showed a PCG member reviving a man.

Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire which reportedly came from the boat's engine room.

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