12 killed after fire rips through ferry in Basilan

At a glance

  • THIS handout picture taken on Wednesday, March 29, and released by the Philippine Coast Guard shows the PCG spraying water on a fire onboard the Lady Mary Joy 3 during a search and rescue operation in waters off Baluk-Baluk Island in Basilan. (AFP)

At least 12 people died and 230 were rescued after a fire engulfed a ferry in Basilan, authorities said Thursday, March 30.

The Lady Mary Joy 3 was travelling from Zamboanga City to Jolo, Sulu when the fire broke out late Wednesday, March 29, prompting passengers to jump overboard, disaster officer Nixon Alonzo said.

Rescuers, including the Philippine Coast Guard and fishermen, saved 195 passengers and 35 crew members as the blaze ripped through the ferry off Baluk-Baluk Island in the municipality of Hadji Muhtamad.

Fourteen people were injured and seven were still missing.

Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman said there could be more people missing because the number of passengers on the vessel exceeded the 205 listed in the ship's manifest.

"Twelve cadavers have been retrieved...three of them are children, including a six-month-old baby," Salliman told AFP.

"Probably there are passengers who didn't register in the manifest."

It was not clear how the fire started.

Survivors were taken to Zamboanga City and Basilan where the injured received treatment for burns, Salliman said.

Photos released by the Coast Guard showed one of its vessels spraying water on the burning ferry as its personnel in smaller boats plucked passengers from the dark waters.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with its badly regulated ferries prone to overcrowding and accidents. (AFP)