Philippine Coast Guard personnel and volunteers rescued 80+ passengers and crew of an interisland ferry that caught fire on Friday, August 26, while approaching a port south of Manila (Luzon Island), prompting them to jump into the water as flames spread quickly in windy weather, officials revealed on Saturday, August 27.
Only 2 of the travelers are unaccounted for and authorities are checking if they are missing or had been rescued but went home without notifying officials.
MV Asia Philippines was listed as carrying a total of 49 passengers and 38 crew.
The ferry came from Calapan city (Oriental Mindoro province) and was more than a kilometer (~1 mile) away from the Batangas port, when smoke emerged from the 2nd deck followed by flames.
The proximity of the ferry to the port allowed the rescue of the victims even after nightfall by CG (coast guard) and nearby ships, tugboats and motor bancas. One of the ships helped the CG extinguish the fire, which gutted the boat that also carried at least 16 cars and trucks.
Passengers said that flames had suddenly risen from the 2nd deck as crew were trying to turn an engine on and off as the vessel approached the port. There had been no immediate order to abandon MV Asia Philippines, but when it became hard to see because of the smoke, many decided to jump into the water.
Pictures released by the coast guard showed the personnel trying to revive a 43-year-old woman at the port before she was taken to hospital with injuries. Many of the passengers were taken to a hotel by officials of the company that owns the ferry.
The ferry, which was towed to an anchorage area, can accommodate ~400 passengers, the coast guard announced, adding an investigation was underway.