8 people have died after a high-speed passenger ferry in the Philippines, carrying 134 people, caught fire on Monday, May 23, with 7 passengers still missing, the coast guard announced.
The vessel caught fire just before reaching Port Real (Quezon Province), approx 60 km (37 mi) east of the country's capital city Manila (Luzon Island). The operated by Mercraft Cruise Shipping Company boat "Mercraft 2" had left Polilio Island at 5 am local time (21:00 GMT) on Sunday, May 22, and made a distress call at 6:30 am.
6 women and 2 men died, while 120 passengers were rescued, with 23 of them treated for injuries, according to a statement by the coast guard.
Pictures shared by the coast guard showed people in life jackets floating at sea, while some were taken to safety by a cargo vessel. Fire and thick smoke engulfed the 2-deck ship.
It was not immediately clear what the cause of the fire was.
The Philippines, an archipelago of 7600+ islands, has a poor record for maritime safety, with ships often overcrowded and many aging.
In 1987, ~5000 people died in the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster, when the overloaded passenger ferry Dona Paz collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro Island, south of Manila City.