Death scene in burned Filipino ferry moves rescuers to tears

The steel-hulled ferry could accommodate up to 430 people and was not overcrowded, said another coast guard official, Commodore Rejard Marfe.

According to the manifest, it was carrying 205 passengers and a 35-member crew, Marfe said. In addition, it had a security contingent consisting of four coast guard marshals, who all survived, and eight soldiers.

Threats posed by Muslim insurgents, including those aligned with the Islamic State group, remain a security issue in the southern Philippines, where cargo and passenger ships are provided extra security by the coast guard and other law enforcement agencies in vulnerable regions.

Marfe said officials are investigating whether the 33-year-old ferry was seaworthy, if there were passengers not listed on the manifest, and whether the crew properly guided passengers to safety.

Sea accidents are common in the Philippines because of frequent storms, badly maintained vessels, overcrowding and spotty enforcement of safety regulations, especially in remote provinces.

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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