Manila, Jun 18 (EFE).- At least 120 people were rescued on Sunday after a vessel caught fire off the coast of the central Philippines, the country’s Coast Guard (PCG) said.
According to preliminary information, 120 people – 55 crew members and 65 passengers – were aboard the MV Esperanza Star, which was heading for the city of Tagbilaran, when it caught fire in the waters of Panglao Island.
According to PCG, everyone on board was rescued by rescue boats and fishermen nearby, and have been transferred to the city of Tagbilaran for medical care, food and water.
The personnel were conducting “firefighting & rescue operations in response to a maritime incident involving a passenger-cargo vessel, MV ESPERANZA STAR, that caught on fire in the vicinity waters off Panglao,” PCG tweeted.
Videos and images shared by rescuers on social media showed the burning vessel and thick smoke while rescue ships attempted to contain the blaze.
The causes of the accident remain unknown, but initial information indicates that the fire started in the engine room and spread through the rear of the boat, Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office’s local head Anthony Damalerio told reporters.
Incidents involving cargo and passenger ships are not uncommon in the Philippines, mainly due to poor condition of vessels, related infrastructure and overloading.
Towards the end of March, a ferry caught fire in the south of the country, leaving more than 30 people dead, including at least three children, while at least 230 were rescued. EFE