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A Philippine ferry with 120 passengers caught fire at sea

Rescue operations are underway after M/V Esperanza Star caught fire while en route from Siquijor province to Bohol province.

A ferry carrying 120 passengers and crew members caught fire off the coast of the Philippines and a coast guard vessel was deployed to rescue those on board and put out the fire, according to officials.

The M/V Esperanza Star caught fire early Sunday morning while en route from Siquijor province to Bohol province in the central Philippines, the Coast Guard said.

It was not immediately known how many people were rescued from the ferry or the number of casualties.

Photos and videos released by the Coast Guard show flames and black smoke billowing from two decks at one end of the ferry as Coast Guard personnel try to put out the fire using water cannons on another vessel.

A fishing boat and another ship could be seen nearby.

None of the 65 passengers and 55 crew members on board the burning ferry were seen, according to images and video released by the Coast Guard.

Marine accidents are common in the Philippine Islands due to frequent storms, poorly maintained vessels, overcrowding and spotty enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.

In March, a ferry carrying about 250 people from the southern island province of Basilan caught fire overnight. At least 31 passengers and crew members were killed, the coastguard said.

In December 1987, the ferry Dona Paz sank after colliding with a fuel tanker, killing more than 4,300 people in the world’s worst peacetime maritime disaster.

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