Manila: A fire engulfed a ferry at sea overnight in the southern Philippines, killing at least two people while more than 100 others were rescued, the coast guard said Wednesday.
Search and rescue efforts were continuing after the fire on the M/V Lite Ferry 16 off Dapitan city in Zamboanga del Norte province, coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said.
It was not immediately clear how many passengers and crewmen were on board, a common dilemma when such sea accidents happen. The coast guard said a manifest showed the 645-ton ferry was carrying 137 passengers, including 28 children and infants, but it's unclear how many crewmen were on board.
A 1-year-old girl and a 60-year-old male passenger died while at least 102 others were rescued by passing ships and boats, Balilo said. The inter-island ferry left Santander town in central Cebu province Tuesday, he said. The fire apparently started in the engine room.
Meanwhile, officials warned ferries not to venture out to sea in the country's north after a fast-moving storm blew across the main Luzon island overnight. The storm weakened into a tropical depression after slamming into Aurora province late Tuesday from the Pacific.
Classes were suspended and heavy rains were reported in some northern provinces but no deaths or injuries have been reported so far. Sea accidents are common in the Philippine archipelago because of frequent storms, badly maintained boats, overcrowding and weak enforcement of safety regulations. In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker in the Philippines, killing more than 4,341 people in the world's worst peacetime maritime disaster.