Bahrain boat capsizes: 48 bodies recovered

A cruise boat carrying up to 150 people capsized Thursday night in the Persian Gulf off the coast of Bahrain, and at least 48 bodies were recovered, the country's coast guard chief said. American divers and a U.S. helicopter aided the rescue effort.

Coast guard chief Youssef al-Katem said at least 63 people survived. A passenger on board the boat calling from his cell phone was the first to alert officials that the ship was listing, he said.

Survivor Khalil Mirza of Bahrain told The Associated Press that he made that call. He said the listing began while the craft was making a left turn out of the harbor.

"People were scared in the water," he said. "They were fighting with each other and screaming."

Television stations early Friday put the death toll at 54, but that higher figure couldn't immediately be confirmed with authorities.

The official Bahrain News Agency said the al-Dana was on an evening cruise that was to last several hours. It overturned less than a mile off the coast, it said. Television footage showed the boat capsized but not sunk, with rescue workers walking on its brown hull.

U.S. helicopters and divers joined the rescue operation launched by Bahrain's coast guard. Bahrain, a tiny island nation on the western side of the Persian Gulf, is home to the Navy's 5th Fleet.

Rescue teams brought bodies covered with white sheets to shore, and hospital workers hurried them to waiting ambulances. Scores of officials and relatives waited on the dock watching small rescue boats with flashing blue lights bring more bodies and survivors.

Television stations showed what they called a file photo of the al-Dana, which appeared to be 60 to 70 feet long with two decks, reports the AP.


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