Video footages released from a local media showed the whole vessel burning into flames while it was docked at the port and people jumping into the sea and clambered down to escape thick black smoke from the vessel’s roof deck.
The rescue teams dispatched to the incident location have succeeded to evacuate safely all passengers ashore, including 17 children.
A total of 12 firefighting vehicles were called to the scene to battle the flames for several hours until to take control over it, made worse by the fuel on board the ferry.
There is a report for two injured crew members, suffering cuts and bruises, who were transferred in a local hospital. The seamen were injured as they tried to contain the fire.
The inter-island ferry had just arrived at a pier in the port city of Ormoc on Leyte Island from nearby Cebu city, when caught fire.
According to Coast guard spokesman, Armand Balilo, it is still not clear what caused the fire.
The owner of the Wonderful Stars ferry has asked the Bureau of Fire Protection for permission to tow the ship back to Cebu City.
Representative of the ship-owning company Roble Shipping Lines cited the incoming typhoon, which may enter the Philippines on Wednesday and damage the ship further or cause the spillage of about 10,000 liters of fuel.
The Philippine Ports Authority has also ordered the ship to be moved elsewhere to ease congestion in the small port of Ormoc.
However the Head of the City Fire Department has refused to approve the request, as they have yet to finish their investigation into the fire. The Philippine Coast Guard and the Maritime Industry Authority are also involved in the inspection, probing the incident in order to prevent another similar cases.