Ferry sinks off Bahrain coast with up to 150 people on board

A ferry carrying up to 150 people sank Thursday night off the coast of Bahrain, according to officials and an official news agency report.

Regional television stations said there were casualties, but gave conflicting figures on the number of bodies recovered or wounded.

The officials and the news agency report said the ferry was on an evening cruise that was to last several hours. It overturned less than a mile off the coast, according to the Bahrain News Agency.

The agency said Bahrain's coast guard boats arrived at the site and that rescue operations have begun. It quoted Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Mohammed Ben Dayna as saying more than 60 people have been rescued and taken to hospital.

"It's too early to say what caused the accident," he said.

The passengers on board the vessel were thought to be a mix of Bahrainis, other Gulf Arab nationals and Westerners, reports AP.

"I saw what appeared to be about 25 bodies being carried off," said a resident, speaking by telephone from outside a port in the island state.

"There were about 150 on the ship. Many on board were rescued," a Bahraini official said. He declined to say how many may have died.

Ambulances could be heard rushing to another port from which the vessel had set off.

A U.S. Navy spokesman said divers and small Navy vessels were helping in the rescue operations.

"The first report we received was that a dhow (traditional wooden boat) has capsized. We are preparing a helicopter to join the rescue," the spokesman said.

"There is no initial indication that this was an attack," he said. Pro-Western Bahrain hosts the U.S. Fifth Fleet, informs Houston Chronicle.


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