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Search for Survivors Continues Following Philippines Ferry Disaster - 2004-02-27


The hunt is continuing for more than 100 passengers and crew who are missing after a ferry caught fire in waters close to the Philippine capital.

The ferry was en-route to the central Philippines when a blaze broke out on board early Friday morning near Corregidor Island, close to the mouth of Manila Bay.

After efforts to put out the fire failed, the more than 870 passengers and crew on board were ordered to abandon ship.

Most were picked up by coast guard vessels and other boats in the area, but at least two people died and around a dozen were injured.

The coast guard says the missing passengers and crew members may have fallen overboard or jumped into the sea to escape the fire, and efforts to find them are continuing.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, although there are reports of an explosion on board.

The survivors were brought back to Manila, where many people have been waiting anxiously for news of missing relatives and friends who had been on the boat.

The woman says she was separated from her baby during the confusion of the evacuation. She says a crew member put the baby on one rescue boat, while she was taken to another boat, and now she can't find the baby. The Philippines has been the scene of numerous serious maritime accidents, including the worst-ever peacetime sea disaster, in which more than four-thousand people died when a ferry collided with a fuel tanker in 1987.

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