The search and rescue effort was continuing Thursday for at least seven missing passengers.
In this photo provided by the Philippine Ports Authority Zamboanga, the remains of the MV Lady Mary Joy are seen in Basilan Thursday
A ferry carrying about 250 passengers and crew caught fire in the southern Philippines and 31 people drowned or died in the blaze and were discovered later, a provincial governor said Thursday.
Many of those rescued had jumped off the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 in panic at the height of the fire and were plucked from the sea by the coast guard, navy, another ferry and local fishermen, said Gov. Jim Hataman of the southern island province of Basilan. The search and rescue effort was continuing Thursday for at least seven missing passengers.
Rescuers assist a survivor from the fire. Pics/AP
The burnt ferry was towed to Basilan’s shoreline, where coast guard personnel and other authorities later discovered 18 more bodies in a budget section of the passenger cabin, Hataman said, adding the search of the vessel was continuing. “These victims perished onboard due to the fire,” Hataman said. The governor said an investigation was underway and the discovery suggested there were additional travelers not listed on the vessel’s manifest.
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The ferry was enroute Jolo town in Sulu province from the southern port city of Zamboanga when it caught fire midway off Basilan close to midnight, he said. At least 23 passengers were injured and brought to hospitals. “Some of the passengers were roused from sleep due to the commotion caused by the fire. Some jumped off the ship,” Hataman told The Associated Press by telephone. The ferry’s skipper told coast guard officials he tried to run the burning ferry aground on the nearest shore to allow more people to survive or be rescued, regional coast guard commander Rejard Marfe said.
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