A fire broke out on a Lite Ferry that was cruising to Dapitan City from Cebu, prompting some of the terrified passengers to throw themselves overboard.
Three people were killed and over 240 plucked to safety after a fire tore through a crowded ferry, authorities said, as rescuers hunted for more survivors.
A dispatch from Coast Guard Southern Cebu said that Lite Ferry 16 caught fire 1:15 a.m. about 1.5 nautical miles from its destination.
It is not clear how many passengers were on the vessel, but the Philippine Coast Guard said 245 people had so far been rescued, and three confirmed dead. The boat’s official manifest listed just 172 passengers and crew.
Coast Guard spokesman Captain Armand Balilo said search and rescue operations were continuing as authorities worked to determine the exact number of people on the boat.
The ferry’s operator, Danilo Lines, said a team was deployed to assist the rescued passengers and tugboats dispatched to bring the stricken ferry back to port.
The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with badly regulated boats and ships prone to overcrowding and accidents.