Three people are confirmed dead while several others have gone missing after a passenger vessel caught fire in the Central Philippines on Tuesday, August 27.
The Ro-Pax Lite Ferry 16 was approaching its final destination of Poluan Port in Dapitan City, Zamboanga del Norte province, after having departed Samboan in Cebu province earlier that evening when a blaze ignited in its engine room at approximately 23:30 local time.
The blaze had begun to spread throughout the vessel while it was less than two nautical miles from shore and manoeuvring to berth.
The passengers and crew were in the process of abandoning ship when a Philippine Coast Guard vessel and a Good Samaritan ferry arrived at the scene to render assistance.
A total of 74 passengers and all 36 of Lite Ferry 16‘s crew have been rescued as of 11:00 on Wednesday, August 28. All survivors have since been brought to Dapitan City for medical treatment.
The coast guard had also recovered three bodies, including that of a small infant, in the same area.
Some of the survivors have said that casualties might have been prevented had the coast guard arrived much earlier instead of more than three hours after the incident began.
Meanwhile, search operations are still ongoing for at least 23 passengers who remain unaccounted for.
The actual number of missing people has not yet been determined as there continue to be discrepancies with regard to the total number of passengers who were on board Lite Ferry 16 at the time of the incident.
Some local news outlets have reported anywhere from 131 to 140 passengers on board in contrast to the total of 100 as confirmed by the coast guard.
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