Over 40 rescued from burning ferry off Cebu, Philippines

Photo: Philippine Coast Guard

More than 40 people were rescued from a passenger vessel after it caught fire off the northern coast of Cebu province in the central Philippines on Thursday, July 23.

Authorities first learned of the incident shortly after 22:00 local time on Thursday when the Cebu Central station of the Philippine Coast Guard received a distress call from the captain of Filipinas Dinagat, a Ro-Pax ferry owned by local company Cokaliong Shipping Lines.

The coast guard immediately deployed the Parola-class multi-role response vessel (MRRV) BRP Suluan to render assistance to the distressed ferry some three nautical miles off the town of Carmen in Cebu.

All 48 passengers and crew were safely pulled out of the water within minutes by the responding coast guard personnel on Suluan as well as the crews of some nearby Good Samaritan vessels. No injuries have been reported.

The fire continued to spread throughout the ship as the last of the survivors were evacuated from the area.

The coast guard has credited the captain’s order to abandon ship during the first few minutes after the blaze ignited as critical in ensuring the survival of all who were on board.

Filipinas Dinagat had sailed out of Cebu City at 19:00 on Thursday with a limited number of passengers and cargo consisting only of assorted dry goods. It was originally scheduled to arrive at the Port of Palompon in Leyte province at 23:30 later that evening.

An investigation has been launched to identify the cause and the origin of the fire, which was still raging as of 07:30 on Friday, July 24.

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