Egyptian ferry catches fire; 1,229 rescued

Last Updated: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 19:49

Cairo: A Jordanian man died while 1,229 passengers aboard an Egyptian ferry had a lucky escape on Thursday after the vessel caught fire near the Jordanian port of Aqaba in the Red Sea.

The fire broke out some 15 nautical miles from Aqaba on
Pella ferry, which is owned by Arab Bridge Maritime Company,
Chairman of the Red Sea Authority Abdel Kader Gaballah said.

A Jordanian man died after jumping from the burning
ferry. His body has been recovered by the rescue teams, local
media reports said.

The passengers, who were coming to this country from
Aqaba, were mainly Egyptian expatriates returning home from
the Gulf.

Eighty per cent of the fire had been contained, Egypt`s
Transport Minister Ali Zein El Abidine said.

Some 813 passengers were safely moved to Nuweibah
port and the remaining are in the process of being
transferred, he said.

So far, the cause of the fire has not been determined,
the minister said.

Naval units came to the rescue of passengers who
escaped the fire on lifeboats. Some others just jumped into
the water to escape the fire.

A vessel was sent from Aqaba to rescue the passengers. A
giant ship from a naval base in South Sinai was also
dispatched.

Preliminary reports said the fire erupted in the vessel`s
garage that contained five trucks.

Egypt`s Red Sea port authority had received a distress
call from the ferry`s crew, following which military aircraft
were sent for the rescue operation.

Passengers on board the ferry were evacuated to small
lifeboats in order to carry them to Al Dora port on the
Jordan-Saudi Arabia border, Foreign Ministry spokesman Amr
Rushdi said.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 16:27

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