Seven Killed After Fire Engulfs Philippine Ferry


This handout photo taken and released on May 23, 2022, from the Philippine Coastguard shows people throwing buckets of water onto a smouldering ferry which had caught fire near Real town, Quezon province. Handout / Philippine Coastguard / AFP

 

At least seven people were killed and scores plucked to safety in the Philippines on Monday after a fire ripped through a ferry and forced passengers to jump overboard, the coast guard and witnesses said.

The blaze broke out on the Mercraft 2 at around 6:30 am (2230 GMT Sunday) as it carried 134 passengers and crew from Polillo Island to Real in Quezon province on the main island of Luzon.

Seven people died and 127 were rescued, Philippine Coast Guard spokesman Commodore Armando Balilo said after the last missing were found.

The fibreglass fast craft boat, which had a 186-person capacity, was about a kilometre from Real when it caught fire.

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“We heard an explosion,” said Kycel Pineda, 18, who was travelling on another ferry.

“When we saw the boat, it was already engulfed by fire and passengers were already floating in the sea,” the high school student added.

Thick black smoke billowed from the Mercraft as flames tore through the entire vessel, photos shared by the coast guard showed.

People with life rings and life vests were in the water. Some were rescued by other ferries or clambered into inflatable boats.

The fire appears to have started in the engine room, Balilo said. A team of investigators was preparing to look into the cause.

“We were able to rescue 40 survivors,” said Captain Brunette Azagra, whose passenger vessel was 500 metres from the Mercraft when the fire broke out. Two bodies were also pulled from the water, he added.

“They were lucky because we also came from Polillo. They overtook us, but we were just nearby,” Azagra told a local radio station, describing sea conditions as “quite good”.


This handout photo taken and released on May 23, 2022 from the Philippine Coastguard shows people trying to help rescued ferry passengers onboard another ferry, off Real town, Quezon province.  Handout / Philippine Coastguard / AFP

 

Twenty-four people were injured, including the captain of the ferry, according to the coast guard.

Speaking from the hospital where the injured were being treated, Real town disaster officer Ricky Poblete said the seven dead had drowned.

Photos posted on the coast guard’s Facebook page showed a survivor lying on a stretcher being carried off a ferry.

Another lay on the deck of a boat and appeared to be receiving treatment.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with its badly regulated boats and ships prone to overcrowding and accidents.

The fire on the Mercraft was under control and the burned-out wreckage towed to shore.

AFP

Five Dead, Dozens Feared Missing In Bangladesh Ferry Sinking

Fire service and civil defence personnel conduct a rescue operation after a ferry sank in Shitalakshya river in Narayanganj on March 20, 2022.  (Photo by Sony RAMANY / AFP)

 

At least five people are dead and dozens more are believed missing after a bulk carrier crashed into a small ferry in a river near Bangladesh’s capital on Sunday.

Police said nearly two dozen people managed to swim ashore after the MV Ruposhi-9 inland cargo carrier ran over the MV Afsaruddin, southeast of Dhaka.

Footage of the sinking aired by local media showed people shouting in alarm as the cargo vessel collided with the ferry and jumping into the polluted waterway as the boat quickly sank.

“We have recovered five bodies including a man, three women and a child,” local police chief Shah Jaman told AFP.

The ferry was believed to be carrying more than 60 passengers, 22 of whom had safely swum ashore, police inspector Aslam Mia said.

District administrator Monjurul Hafiz said coast guard personnel and divers were assisting with rescue efforts.

A large crowd had gathered on both banks of the Shitalakshya river to watch the search for survivors.

Ferry accidents are common in Bangladesh, with experts blaming poor maintenance, lax safety standards and overcrowding.

A ferry sank in Dhaka last June after a collision with another vessel, killing at least 32 people.

At least 78 people died in February 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.

AFP

Passenger Found Alive On Ferry Ablaze Off Greece

Smoke rises from the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia, which is on fire, on the Greek Ionian island of Corfu, on February 20, 2022, two days after the ship, en route to Brindisi in Italy, caught fire at dawn after leaving the Greek port of Igoumenitsa with 290 people, including 51 crew members registered on board. 
Angelos Tzortzinis / AFP

 

A passenger was on Sunday found alive on a ferry that has been ablaze off Greece for three days, coastguards said, with 11 truck drivers still missing.

Rescuers spotted the man on the stern of the stricken vessel as it was being towed to port.

“Tell me I’m alive,” the 21-year-old truck driver who said he was from Belarus, told rescuers, according to the Proto Thema news website.

Clad in tan shorts and a black t-shirt, he climbed down a ladder into a rescue boat, according to images from the iefimerida news website.

The fire broke out on the Italian-flagged Euroferry Olympia late on Thursday as it sailed from Igoumenitsa in Greece to Brindisi in Italy, with nearly 300 people aboard.

Following the blaze, criticism had mounted over conditions aboard the vessel, which was reported to be carrying fuel and “corrosive dangerous goods.”

Rescuers managed to save 280 passengers on Friday, evacuating them to Corfu, but 12 lorry drivers remained missing.

The man rescued on Sunday was one of those drivers, the coastguards said.

Authorities initially gave the missing as seven from Bulgaria, three from Greece, one from Turkey and one from Lithuania.

On Sunday, they said there was an error and the missing Lithuanian was actually the man saved, who was from Belarus.

The drivers are believed to have been asleep inside their lorries when the blaze broke out.

On Sunday the vessel was being towed toward the Kassiopi inlet near Corfu.

Olympia was carrying an estimated 800 cubic metres of fuel and 23 tons of “corrosive dangerous goods”, according to Italy’s environment ministry which said on Saturday that a “possible spill” was detected after a fly-over by an Italian coastguard aircraft.

 ‘Miserable’ Conditions 

The vessel was officially carrying 239 passengers and 51 crew, as well as 153 trucks and trailers and 32 passenger vehicles, the Grimaldi company has said.

But the coastguard has said two of the 280 people rescued were Afghans not on the manifest, sparking fears that more undocumented passengers could also be missing.

The missing truckers reportedly slept in their vehicles because cabins on the vessel were overcrowded.

Ilias Gerontidakis, the son of a missing Greek trucker, told the Proto Thema online newspaper the Olympia “miserable from every point of view”.

“It had bed bugs, it was dirty, it had no security systems,” he said as he waited at the port for news.

“It had 150 lorries inside. Normally it should have 70 to 75 cabins, but it only has 50. They force us to sleep four people in a cabin”, he said.

“My father, from what I was told, slept in the truck.”

The last shipboard fire in the Adriatic occurred in December 2014 on the Italian ferry Norman Atlantic. Thirteen people died in that blaze.

Ferry Fire: Bangladesh Police Arrest Owner After Death Of 39 People

The burnt-out ferry is seen anchored along a coast a day after it caught fire killing at least 37 people in Jhalkathi, 250 km (160 miles) south of Dhaka on December 24, 2021. Arifur Rahman / AFP

 

Bangladesh police on Monday arrested the owner of an overcrowded ferry that caught fire and killed at least 39 people last week after investigators blamed the toll on a disregard for safety.

The blaze broke out in the middle of the night on Friday when many of the ferry’s 700 passengers were sleeping near the southern district of Barguna.

Survivors relayed harrowing stories of having to jump into the Sugandha river from the three-storey ferry, which was only designed to carry 420 people.

Most of the victims burnt to death while others drowned in frigid waters while trying to escape.

Ferry owner Hum Jalal Sheikh was arrested Monday, a police spokesman told reporters, a day after a court issued an arrest warrant for eight people including the captain and crew of the Obhijaan-10.

Marine police officer Mahbubur Rahman said the vessel did not have adequate fire extinguishers and buoys to face a major mid-river accident.

“We spoke to the survivors and they said the driver of the ferry kept the vessel moving for nearly an hour after its engine room caught fire,” he told AFP.

“Had they stopped the ferry and anchored immediately, it could have saved all these valuable lives.”

Experts in Bangladesh blame poor maintenance, lax safety standards at shipyards and overcrowding for the South Asian nation’s frequent maritime disasters.

At least 21 people were killed in August when a boat packed with passengers collided with a sand-laden cargo ship.

AFP

Nearly 300 Rescued In Indonesia Ferry Accident

This handout photo taken on May 29, 2021 and released by National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) shows smoke billowing from the KM Karya Indah ferry sailing in the Molucca sea heading for Sanana, a port on the island of Limafatola, when a fire broke out with 275 people on board, all have been rescued but one is still reported missing. (Photo by HANDOUT / National Search and Rescue Agency (BASARNAS) / AFP)

 

Search teams are looking for one missing person after rescuing all other passengers from a large ferry that caught fire in Indonesia, an official said Sunday.

The KM Karya Indah was heading to Sanana, a remote port in the northeast of the Indonesian archipelago when it was engulfed in flames.

Shortly after departing, the ferry caught fire, forcing passengers and crew to jump into the sea to save themselves. There are no reported casualties.

“There were 275 people on board, 274 had been evacuated safely,” Muhammad Arafah, the head of the local search and rescue team told Kompas TV Sunday. “One person, a 43-year-old man, is still being searched for.” He added that at least 35 passengers were children.

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Dozens of rescuers are still scouring the area for the missing person.

Images shared by the search and rescue agency showed the large ferryboat enveloped in thick, dark smoke while passengers in life jackets were rescued by rafts.

More than a dozen crew members have been detained and questioned by the local police to determine the cause of the fire.

Maritime accidents are common in Indonesia due to poor safety standards. But passenger ferries are widely used for transport in the archipelago of some 17,000 islands.

In 2019, 21 people died when an overloaded ferry sank in rough seas off Java’s north coast.

In 2018, around 160 people drowned when an Indonesian ferry sank into the depths of one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island. And more than 300 people are estimated to have drowned in 2009 when a ferry sank between Sulawesi and Borneo.

AFP

Seven Killed In Indonesia Ferry Accident

 

Seven people, including two children, were killed and four others missing after a ferry carrying dozens of passengers caught fire off Indonesia’s Sulawesi island early Saturday, a police officer said.

The ferry, heading from Southeast Sulawesi to an island in Central Sulawesi, caught fire shortly after midnight.

“Suddenly there were sparks in the engine and fire quickly spread to other parts of the boat,” local police spokesman Harry Goldenhard said in a statement.

Police suspect the fire was triggered when the diesel tank exploded.

It was unclear how many people were aboard the vessel at the time.

The passenger manifest listed 50 but rescuers and locals recovered 61 survivors while seven people, including two children aged two and four, were found dead.

A search has been launched for four passengers reported missing.

Marine accidents are common in Indonesia, an archipelago nation of more than 17,000 islands, where many use ferries and other boats to travel despite poor safety standards.

Ferry operators often sell illegal tickets, exceeding the allowed capacity.

More than 160 people died when a passenger ferry sank in one of the world’s deepest lakes on Sumatra island last year.

In 2009, more than 300 people are estimated to have drowned when a ferry sank between the islands of Sulawesi and Borneo.

South Korea Awards Compensation To Survivors Of Ferry Sinking

 

A South Korean court on Monday awarded compensation to some survivors of the Sewol ferry sinking, almost five years after the accident killed more than 300 people in one of the country’s deadliest maritime disasters.

The 6,825-tonne Sewol was carrying 476 people — most of them high-school students on a school trip — when it capsized off the southern coast in April 2014.

Almost all the victims were children, many of whom obeyed orders to stay in their cabins as the vessel slowly sank, and intense public fury targeted the then president Park Geun-hye after it emerged she was uncontactable for several hours as the disaster unfolded.

The disaster was blamed on a deadly combination of cargo overloading, an illegal redesign and poor helmsmanship by what the court described as an “incompetent” crew.

Nearly 80 people, including 20 survivors and dozens of relatives of survivors, later sought compensation from the government and the ship’s operator for negligence and failure to properly evacuate the passengers.

The Suwon District Court south of Seoul ordered the government and the ship’s operator, Cheonghaejin Marine, to pay each survivor 80 million won ($71,000), while relatives received sums ranging from two to 32 million won.

“The survivors experienced considerable difficulty escaping the ship after getting little or no guidance from anyone and suffered so much fear and anxiety while trapped inside,” the court said in a statement.

“The survivors and their families also suffer from various symptoms including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety,” it said.

The court held the coastguard and the ship’s operator responsible for negligence, including the failure by both to tell passengers to leave the ship, and Cheonghaejin’s failure to properly check the vessel before departure.

The same court has previously awarded compensation to the families of the dead.

At his trial, the Sewol’s captain Lee Joon-Seok — one of the first people to leave the sinking ship, while hundreds of passengers were trapped inside — was sentenced to life in prison for negligence and murder.

Other crew members were jailed for terms ranging from 18 months to 12 years.

AFP

At Least 126 Dead In Tanzania Ferry Disaster

 

The death toll in a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria climbed to 126 on Friday, as Tanzanian rescue workers pressed on with the search to find scores more people feared drowned.

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers — double the ferry’s capacity —  when it capsized close to the pier on Ukara Island on Thursday, according to reports on state media.

Witnesses reached by AFP said the ferry sank when passengers rushed to one side to disembark as it approached the dock.

The death toll rose to 126 by mid-afternoon Friday, according to Tanzania’s transport minister.

“We are sad to report there are 126 dead,” Isack Kamwele told state television, adding that a further update would be provided at 6 pm local time (1500 GMT).

Mwanza governor John Mongella had earlier said the number of survivors was 40, but it was unclear whether any new survivors had been found since rescue operations resumed with police and army divers on Friday morning.

“Operations are continuing,” he said.

Rescue operations were suspended overnight Thursday and hopes are fading that more survivors might still be found.

State television cited witnesses reporting that more than 200 people had boarded the ferry at Bugolora, a town on the larger Ukerewe Island, where it was a market day when locals said the vessel was usually packed with people and goods.

“I have not heard from either my father or my younger brother who were on the ferry. They had gone to the market in Bugolora to buy a school uniform and other supplies for the new school term,” said Domina Maua, who was among those seeking information about loved ones.

Davita Ngenda, an elderly woman in Ukara, had already received bad news.

“My son is among the bodies recovered,” she said, weeping. “He had gone with his wife but she has not been found yet. My God, what did I do to deserve this?”

Sebastian John, a teacher, said such tragedies had become part of life for those living on the lake.

“Since my birth, people have gone to their deaths on this lake, but what are we to do? We did not choose to be born here, we have nowhere to go,” he said.

 Overloading and ‘negligence’

It remains unclear how many people are still missing.

Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency, which is responsible for ferry services, said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.

The aging ferry, whose hull and propellers were all that remained visible after it overturned, was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas, and cement, when it capsized around 50 meters (55 yards) from Ukara dock.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such incidents.

President John Magufuli was “deeply saddened” by the disaster and called on Tanzanians to “stay calm during these difficult times,” according to spokesman Gerson Msigwa.

The country’s opposition, however, accused the government of “negligence”.

“We have often raised concerns about the poor condition of this ferry, but the government turned a deaf ear. We have repeatedly denounced this negligence,” said John Mnyika, deputy secretary general of Chadema, the main opposition party.

Mnyika said overloading was “another failure of the authorities” and criticised “inadequate relief efforts as well as delays” in the rescue operation.

With a surface area of 70,000 square kilometers (27,000 square miles), oval-shaped Lake Victoria is roughly the size of Ireland and is shared by Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya.

Capsizes are not uncommon in the massive lake, and the number of fatalities is often high due to a shortage of life jackets and the fact that many people in the region cannot swim.

The deadliest such accident in recent decades was in May 1996, when around 800 people died after their ferry sank on the way to Mwanza in Tanzania.

AFP

Death Toll From Tanzania Ferry Collapse Rises To 79

FILE Photo of Tanzania flag

 

At least 79 people died when a ferry capsized in Lake Victoria, Tanzanian state media said Friday, citing a regional governor, as the search for survivors continued.

“At the moment the death toll is 79,” said Mwanza governor John Mongella, quoted on state television.

The number of those found alive after Thursday’s disaster remains 37, with no more survivors found since rescue operations resumed Friday morning.

The MV Nyerere may have been carrying as many as 200 passengers — double the ferry’s capacity —  when it capsized close to the pier at Ukara Island on Thursday afternoon, according to state media.

Tanzania’s Electrical, Mechanical and Services Agency, which is responsible for ferry services, said it was unknown how many passengers were aboard the MV Nyerere.

The aging ferry was also carrying cargo, including sacks of maize, bananas, and cement, when it overturned and then sank around 50 meters (55 yards) from Ukara dock.

The cause of the accident was not immediately clear, but overloading is frequently to blame for such disasters.

AFP

Four Dead, 11 Missing As Ferry Capsizes Off Philippines

Four people were killed and 11 others were missing Thursday after a ferry with hundreds on board capsized in stormy weather off the Philippines, rescuers said.

Over 200 passengers and crew were plucked to safety after the Mercraft 3 keeled over in heavy seas en route to a remote island, officials said.

“The wind suddenly picked up and the boat was forced to stop when the bow started taking in water. Passengers ran to the side just before it tipped over,” student Donel Mendiola told DZMM radio.

“Some of us swam, but I saw some old people who were apparently already dead,” Mendiola said.

Two men and two women were killed, while the search for those still missing has been suspended for the night, Ron Crisostomo, a civil defence official in Infanta town near Real told AFP.

“It was rainy and the wind was up. It was no longer safe for the rescuers, but they will continue tomorrow,” Crisostomo said.

Janet Balili, a local council member, told ABS-CBN television 11 people remain missing.

The station aired footage of rescuers taking injured survivors to a hospital. Four body bags were also seen being laid out on the floor.

The boat tipped over between the remote island of Polillo and Real town, about 70 kilometres (45 miles) east of Manila, shortly before noon (0400 GMT), the coastguard said.

It said the ferry was carrying 251 passengers and crew when it left the port of Real for Polillo, a 2.5-hour trip.

“We believe the weather was a big factor” in the accident, coastguard spokesman Armand Balilo told a news conference in Manila.

The ferry sailed as Tropical Storm Tembin loomed over the southern Philippines, nearly a thousand kilometres away.

The vessel, which is licensed to carry up to 286 people, was allowed to sail as there were no storm warnings at or around Real or Polillo, Balilo said.

The government had advised Filipinos planning to return to their home provinces for Christmas to do so earlier than usual to avoid heavy weather forecast to hit ahead of the holidays.

Another storm killed more than 40 people in the central Philippines last weekend.

The Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,000 islands, is plagued by poor sea transport, with its badly regulated boats and ships prone to overcrowding and accidents.

The latest incident occurred 30 years after another Philippine ferry, the Dona Paz, collided with an oil tanker in a pre-Christmas accident that claimed more than 4,000 lives in the world’s worst peacetime disaster at sea.

More recently, the Kim Nirvana ferry capsized shortly after departure off the city of Ormoc in the central Philippines in 2015, killing 61 people. The accident was thought to have been due to overcrowding.

AFP

Scores Dead In Bangladesh Ferry Collision

bangladeshUnconfirmed number of persons have been confirmed dead as a ferry carrying more that 150 passengers and crew capsized after colliding with a trawler on a river in central Bangladesh on Sunday.

Some sources have placed the number at 66 while another source placed it at 70.

A Police source, Harun-ur Rashid, said that rescuers managed to save some of the passengers, adding that the search is still on for more survivors.

More than half of the bodies retrieved so far from the river  were women and children, Harun said.

Police have seized the trawler and arrested the captain and his two crew, he said.

“The ferry was recovered … and there were 23 bodies inside,” Harun said.

Harun said that there might be more bodies trapped inside the ferry noting that the rescuers from the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority and Red Cross were still searching the river.

The ferry was heading to Paturia from Daulatdia in Rajbari, located on the opposite bank of the river, about 135 km (85 miles) west of the capital, Dhaka.

Shajahan Khan, the shipping minister, told reporters at the scene that an investigation had been launched.

The exact number of people aboard the boat is not known, as Bangladeshi ferries do not usually have formal passenger lists.