A passenger ferry caught fire overnight in the southern Philippines, killing at least 10 people and leaving at least seven others missing, officials said on Thursday.
The ship was at sea near the southern island province of Basilan when the fire broke out on Wednesday evening, the Philippine Coast Guard said. The cause of the fire was not immediately clear, and the coast guard said an investigation was underway.
Emergency workers had rescued 233 people from the ship as of Thursday morning, including 35 crew members, the local coast guard said. The provincial government said that seven others remained missing.
It was not clear how many people the ship, Lady Mary Joy 3, had been carrying when it caught fire. Basilan’s disaster management agency on Thursday put the figure at 230, slightly lower than the number of people that coast officials said had been rescued.
Such discrepancies are not unusual in the Philippines, an archipelago of more than 7,100 islands where vessels often carry more people than they list on their official passenger manifests.
Travel by sea is the cheapest mode of transportation in the Philippines, and maritime accidents happen somewhat regularly. Last year, seven people died after a passenger ferry carrying 124 passengers caught fire soon after setting off from Polillo Island, east of the Philippine capital, Manila. More than a hundred other people were rescued.