Manila, Aug 28 (IANS) Three people have been killed, including a one-year-old, and 69 remain missing after a ferry with at least 174 people on board caught fire in the Philippines.
The fire started on Tuesday night when the ferry was covering the distance between the cities of Cebu and Dapitan, in the centre and south of the country, respectively.
The cause of the fire on Lite Ferry 16 — carrying 136 passengers and 38 crew members — remained unknown, the country’s Coast Guard said on Wednesday. About 102 people were rescued, Efe news reported.
Two of the rescued people were taken to the hospital unconscious, while the Coast Guard continued to search for more survivors.
The search-and-rescue operation was hampered by strong winds and currents, according to the commander of the Coast Guard station in North Zamboanga province, Cherry Rose Manaay.
Another passenger ferry on that route stopped to help people who jumped into the water while the Lite Ferry 16 was engulfed in flames, as seen in videos uploaded to social media by witnesses.
Allan Barredo, one of the eyewitnesses travelling on the other ferry, said in a Facebook post that the Coast Guard did not arrive at the site until four hours had passed after the fire started.