Passenger ship catches fire in Ormoc port

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – A ship carrying more than 600 people caught fire while docked at the Ormoc Port in Leyte early Saturday morning, August 15.

Philippine Coast Guard spokesperson Commander Armand Balilo said 3 crewmembers of the  M/V Wonderful Stars of Roble Shipping Line sustained minor injuries.

Balilo said all of the passengers – numbering 544, according to the manifest – safely disembarked from the ship but 3 crewmembers of the ferry suffered minor injuries when they tried to put out the fire.

Two of the injured were identified as Rondell Guinocor and Daryll Lee Bentoy, who were admitted to the Ormoc Sugar Planters (OSPA) Association Farmers Medical Center.

Lieutenant Prolen Bonacua, civil military officer of the Philippine Army's 19th Infantry Batallion, said the ship caught fire at 4 am while docked at Ormoc port.

Bonacua said the ship had just arrived from Cebu City, when passengers noticed the thick smoke emanating from the vessel's engine room.

"Passengers swiftly ran towards the bridge to disembark. No casualties were reported as of 0650 hour (6:50 am)," Bonacua said.

Balilo said the cause of the fire will be investigated by the PCG in coordination with the Bureau of Fire Protection. He said the safety aspect of the vessel would be part of the probe.

Fire trucks from different parts of Leyte rushed to the site to help put out the fire. There was difficulty putting out the blaze because of the fuel from the vehicles on board.

Authorities have also deployed emergency response teams to monitor the site, in preparation for a possible oil spill from the burnt vessel.

This was the second ship accident in Ormoc in over a month. On July 2, over 60 people were killed when the MBCA Nirvana-B capsized shortly after it left Ormoc port en route to Camotes Island, Cebu.  – Rappler.com