A ferry in the southern Philippines caught fire, today, killing at least 31 passengers and crew members. The incident occurred on the MV Lady Mary Joy 3, which was traveling from the city of Zamboanga to Jolo town in Sulu province. The fire raged for approximately eight hours, and many of the 250 passengers and crew members aboard jumped off the ferry to escape. Over 200 people survived the blaze and were rescued by the coast guard, navy, nearby ferry, and local fishermen.
According to Governor Jim Hataman of Basilan, rescuers were still searching for at least seven missing individuals. The burned ferry was towed to Basilan’s shoreline, where the bodies of 18 victims were discovered in a budget section of the passenger cabin. The ferry’s skipper reported to coast guard officials that he attempted to run the burning vessel aground on the nearest shore to save more people. The fire eventually destroyed the ferry, and officials are currently investigating the cause of the incident.
The steel-hulled ferry was capable of accommodating up to 430 people and was not overcrowded, said regional coast guard commander Rejard Marfe. The ferry was carrying 205 passengers and a 35-member crew, according to the manifest. In addition, there was a security contingent comprising four coast guard marshals and an unspecified number of soldiers who were not listed on the manifest for their protection.
Some of the passengers were awoken from their sleep due to the commotion caused by the fire. Governor Hataman stated that many of those who survived had to jump off the ship into the dark sea to escape. At least 23 passengers were injured and taken to hospitals. The Philippine Coast Guard stated that it is coordinating with other agencies to investigate the incident, and officials are questioning the ferry’s crew and passengers to determine what caused the fire.
This incident is not the first ferry disaster in the Philippines. In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz collided with a fuel tanker and sank, resulting in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster, killing over 4,300 people. The ferry was overloaded, carrying more than six times its capacity, and had no radio, life jackets, or lifeboats. The tanker was also not properly equipped with safety measures. The incident sparked outrage and calls for stricter safety regulations in the maritime industry. The tragedy served as a reminder of the importance of safety precautions and the devastating consequences of negligence.
The Philippine Coast Guard is currently conducting an investigation into the MV Lady Mary Joy 3 ferry fire to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future.
The incident has raised questions about the safety of the country’s maritime transportation system. The Philippine government has been criticized for its inadequate safety regulations in the past, and this incident has once again brought those concerns to the forefront. Officials are investigating whether the 33-year-old ferry was seaworthy and whether the crew properly guided passengers to safety.