Seven die after Philippine ferry catches fire

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A fire on a high-speed Philippine ferry carrying 134 people has seen the death of at least seven people, Sky News has reported. An official statement confirmed that five women and to men have died, and a further seven remain missing.

The fire occurred just before the  boat reached the port of Real in Quezon province, about 37 miles (60km) east of the capital Manila, having left Polillo Island at 5am local time and sending out a distress call at 6.30am.

According to a statement from the coast guard, many of the 134 passengers and crew were forced to jump into the water, with others rescue by vessels in the area.

A further 23 were injured and taken to a hospital, including the skipper, after the the fire started in the engine room of the M/V Mercraft 2. The cause of the fire is yet to be confirmed.

¬†Captain Brunette Azagra, whose passenger vessel was 500m from the¬†ferry when the fire broke out, told a local radio station that they were able to rescue 40 passengers, adding: “They were lucky because we also came from Polillo. They overtook us, but we were just nearby.”

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