On Sunday, the Philippine Coast Guard helped extinguish a fire aboard a large passenger vessel off the coast of Bohol.
That morning, the PCG received word that the ropax ferry Esperanza Star had caught fire off Panglao, Bohol while under way for Tagbilaran. The vessel had about 120 people on board, including both passengers and crew.
The cutter BRP Malamawi responded to the scene, along with boats and firefighters from the station in Tagbilaran. All personnel aboard the ropax were safely disembarked and brought to the nearest port.
— Philippine Coast Guard (@coastguardph) June 18, 2023
The fire was declared out at about 1000 hours. Two cutters, BRP Cape San Agustin and BRP Malamawi, remained on scene to ensure the vessel’s security. An investigation into the circumstances of the casualty will follow.
Serious casualties occur with regularity in the Philippines, where waterborne transportation is an essential part of the economic fabric and regulation is relatively light. Just one month earlier, a major fire killed at least 31 aboard a ferry which had 250 people aboard.
The Philippines holds the record for the world’s worst peacetime disaster at sea, set in 1987. That December, the ferry Dona Paz collided with a product tanker, sparking a gasoline fire and then sinking. About 4,385 people died, including at least 2,000 who were not on the official manifest; only 26 survived.