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Fire engulfs Philippine ship with 544; only 2 minor injuries

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    Black smoke rises from the burning MV Wonderful Stars ferry which caught fire at the port in Ormoc city in central Philippines early Saturday.

MANILA » A two-story ferry with 544 passengers caught fire after docking in the central Philippines on Saturday and people jumped into the sea and clambered down the roof deck to escape black smoke. All passengers were safe and only two crew suffered bruises and cuts, officials said.

Video footage showed several men jumping into the water from the MV Wonderful Stars, which was engulfed in smoke as firefighters struggled to put out the blaze hours after the fire broke out.

The ferry had just arrived at a pier in the port city of Ormoc on Leyte Island from nearby Cebu city.

Sarah Jane Balmaceda of the coast guard office in Ormoc said two of the 59 crew were slightly injured and treated in a hospital.

Coast guard spokesman Armand Balilo said it wasn’t immediately clear what caused the fire.

Last month, a ferry was lashed by strong waves and capsized moments after departing Ormoc, leaving more than 60 people dead.

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