The coast guard reported that seven people died after a high-speed Philippine ferry carrying 134 people caught fire on Monday 23, with seven passengers still missing.

The ship caught fire just before arriving at the port of Real in Quezon province, about 60 kilometers (37.28 miles) east of Manila. It departed Polilio Island at 5:00 a.m. local time (2100 GMT Sunday) and issued a distress call at 6:30 a.m.

The coast guard said in a statement that five women and two men had died, while 120 passengers had been rescued, with 23 of them being treated for injuries.

The coast guard shared images of people in life vests floating at sea awaiting rescue, while others were rescued by a cargo ship in the area. The two-story passenger ship was engulfed in flames and thick smoke.

The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, but the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,600 islands, has a poor track record for maritime safety, with vessels frequently overcrowded and many vessels ageing.

In 1987, the world’s worst peacetime shipping disaster occurred when an overloaded passenger ferry, the Dona Paz, collided with an oil tanker off Mindoro island, south of Manila.

Source: Reuters

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