Fire on Red Sea ferry with 1,200 passengers
Cairo, November 3, 2011
Passengers were forced to escape on lifeboats when a fire broke out on a ferry carrying more than 1,200 passengers from the Jordanian Red Sea port of Aqaba to Egypt on Thursday, a maritime official said.
The official from Egypt's Red Sea ports authority said there were no immediate reports of casualties and the rescue operation was continuing. He said there was extensive damage to the ferry.
Egyptian state television said Egyptian naval launches and military aircraft were involved in the rescue effort. It said more than 800 people had already been transferred to the Egyptian port of Nuweiba.
Egyptian Transport Minister Ali Zain el-Abdin told state television he was awaiting confirmation that the remaining 400 or so passengers had been safely transferred.
The fire erupted on the Pella, owned by Arab Bridge Maritime Company (AB Maritime), about 15 nautical miles from Aqaba, the official said, adding that another vessel was sent from Aqaba to help. The ferry was also carrying five trucks.
The official said the passengers were mainly Egyptian expatriate workers returning home from neighbouring states. AB Maritime, founded in November 1985, is a joint venture between the governments of Jordan, Egypt and Iraq. It has paid-up capital of $66 million. - Reuters