1 Jordanian passenger dies in Egypt ferry fire

AP News
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Posted: Nov 03, 2011 7:54 AM
1 Jordanian passenger dies in Egypt ferry fire

A Jordanian man died while 1,246 other passengers and crew members, most of them Egyptians, were rescued following a fire Thursday aboard their ferry that was sailing on the Red Sea en route to Egypt's port of Nuweiba, a Jordanian official said.

The blaze had broken out earlier in the day in the ferry's cargo section during the voyage across the Gulf of Aqaba, said Jordanian Civil Defense spokesman, Farid al-Sharaa.

As flames rose up into the sky, a Jordanian rescue ship reached the stricken vessel, the Pella, about 10 miles (16 kilometers) off the coast of Jordan, said an Egyptian port official.

The rescuers managed to extinguish the blaze but an unidentified Jordanian man died after jumping into the water and fatally injuring himself, al-Sharaa said. The cause of the injury was not immediately known, he added.

Al-Sharaa said 12 passengers suffered from smoke inhalation and were taken to a Jordanian hospital. The remaining 1,230 passengers _ all Egyptians _ were placed aboard another ferry that subsequently sailed off to Egypt, he said.

Al-Sharaa told The Associated Press that the captain and his three crew members _ all Egyptians _ were also rescued and were on their way back to Egypt.

The Egyptian official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said Pella's passengers were mostly Egyptian expatriate workers returning home for the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, which starts on Sunday.

The Pella is owned by The Arab Bridge company, an Egyptian-Jordanian venture.

The Gulf of Aqaba, also known as Gulf of Eilat in Israel, is the northeastern tip of the Red Sea between Egypt's Sinai Peninsula, Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia.

Egypt has seen occasional accidents involving its ferries on the Red Sea, In Feb. 2006, about 1,000 people _ mostly Egyptian workers returning home from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf nations _ died when fire broke out on their vessel amid botched rescue attempts by the Egyptians.

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Associated Press writer Jamal Halaby in Amman, Jordan contributed to this report.