Dozens Killed in Ferry Blaze in Philippines
Manila, 30 Mar (ONA) —- At least 28 people have been killed and 230 rescued after a passenger ferry caught fire in the Philippines.
The blaze began in the ship's air-conditioned cabins, but it is unclear how, local officials said.
Among the dead were at least three children, including a six-month-old baby.
Earlier, officials said the number of people missing was uncertain because an exact passenger count was not known. Just 205 were listed on a manifest, BBC news reported.
The Philippine Coast Guard said search and rescue operations were ongoing and there were no signs of overloading on the ship.
The initial death toll amounted to less than a dozen people - these were thought to have drowned as they jumped into the water without life jackets.
However authorities then discovered another 18 bodies on the vessel that were "totally burnt", said the Coast Guard. It added that "chaos" resulted when the fire broke out, as most of the passengers were sleeping at the time.
The captain eventually ran the vessel aground so that it would be easier for those onboard to swim to shore.
Last May, at least seven people died after a fire in a high-speed ferry carrying 134 people.
In 1987, around 5,000 people perished in the world's worst peacetime shipping disaster, when an overloaded passenger ferry collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro island.