1 dead in Egyptian ferry accident
Amman - Rescue services evacuated 1 230 passengers onto life rafts from a burning ferry in the Red Sea on Thursday, with one Egyptian dying after jumping into the sea, Jordan's civil defence spokesperson told AFP.
By afternoon, only the captain and three crew members remained aboard the stricken ship.
The fire broke out as the ferry was some 15 nautical miles from the Jordanian port of Aqaba, Egyptian sources said. The ferry was headed for the Egyptian port of Nuweiba and as the blaze erupted passengers were ordered to take to life rafts.
A tug and a second ferry were dispatched from Nuweiba to join the rescue, the sources added.
"The blaze has cost the life of an Egyptian citizen who drowned after jumping from the burning ferry," Jordan's civil defence spokesperson Farid Shareh said.
"His body has been recovered by the rescue teams," he added.
In addition "some people were suffering from breathing difficulties and have been rescued", the spokesperson said.
By late morning, only 50 passengers and 80 crew members remained on the burning ship, a security official in Aqaba told Jordan's Petra news agency.
Later, Shareh said "all passengers have been evacuated and only the captain and three crew members", remain on board.
Initially, Hussein Sawub, director of the Al-Jisr Al-Arabi company which operates the ferry, said there had been no casualties "in the fire which broke out on the container deck".
Egyptian sources had said that all the passengers were Egyptian but Russian tour operator TEZ TOUR told the RIA Novosti news agency that "there could be no more than 50 tourists from Russia" on the vessel.