Passengers onboard a ferry were forced to jump for their lives after the vessel caught fire as it was approaching the Batangas port in the Philippines on Friday.

The M/V Asia Philippines, an inter-island cargo and passenger vessel, had more than 90 people on board when the incident occurred.

The search and rescue operations for the missing passengers continued throughout the weekend. Fortunately, the coastguard said that they were able to rescue all passengers and crew members. The officials took the help of a nearby vessel to extinguish the fire, per the local reports.

A video of the incident has made it to social media platforms and shows flames and black smoke billowing from the ferry. A major tragedy was averted due to the timely intervention of the coastguard. However, the cause of the fire still remains unclear.

A passenger aboard the ferry told DZMM radio that the crew members were trying to turn an engine on and off when flames started to rise from the second deck. He added that there was no order to leave the vessel, but he decided to jump into the water after it became hard to see due to the smoke.

"I pushed my children off because if we didn't jump from the top, we would really get burned because the soles of our feet were already feeling the heat," Fernandez said. The family was rescued by another boat that was present nearby.

Such accidents are not uncommon in the Philippines due to badly maintained boats, spotty enforcement of safety regulations and frequent storms, writes The Manila Times.

In a similar incident reported from the country in 2017, at least four people were killed after a ferry carrying 258 people capsized off the coast of Real in the northeast Philippines.

In another tragic accident, more than 4,300 people were killed after the ferry carrying them collided with a fuel tanker and sank in Philippine waters in 1987. The accident was termed "the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster of the 20th century" by Time magazine.

The ship was operating without a licence and was unfit to be used. The Supreme Court of the Philippines ruled in 1999 that the ship's owners were liable for the tragedy.

Ferry Philippines
Representative Image of a ferry in the Philippines. Reuters