All Rescued in Egypt Ferry Fire On the Red Sea

By MAGGIE MICHAEL | November 4, 2011

All 1,200 passengers who were on board a ferry that caught fire on the Red Sea en route to Egypt’s port of Nuweiba were rescued and the blaze was quickly extinguished, Egyptian and Jordanian officials said.

The passengers from the Pella were taken to the nearest Jordanian port, Dora, to wait for another ferry to take them to Egypt, said an Egyptian port official.

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

The Egyptian official said a rescue ship reached the Pella about 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the coast of Jordan.

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

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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