A stricken passenger onboard a burning ferry in the Red Sea called a live phone-in on the ‘Sabah ON’ TV show this morning, begging to be rescued.
The Jordanian ferry ‘Pella’ was on route from Aqaba to Nuweiba when the fire broke out. Authorities have not disclosed the cause of the fire.
There were at least 1200 passengers onboard and there are no reported injuries so far.
According to the caller, 200 passengers had been already transferred to lifeboats.
Minister of Transport Ali Zein El-Abdeen called the show on the ONTV channel shortly after the SOS call and said the Egyptian authorities had already transferred 813 passengers to another ferry, which was now on its way to Nuweiba, and had managed to put out 75 per cent of the fire.
According to eyewitnesses in Taba, diving centres had sent boats to help in the rescue efforts.
News of the ferry fire has reminded many Egyptians of the El-Salam 98 ferry disaster which killed at least 1000 people in February 2006 and generated huge anger at the authorities' poor response.
SCAF has issued a statement on its Facebook page saying it had sent units from the Egyptian navy and air force to assist the rescue efforts. Their Jordanian counterparts are also at the scene.