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Fire on ferry injures 26 and destroys nearly 40 cars 

PAGE 19 FIRE

A midnight fire on board a ferry sailing near Mallorca led to a full-scale emergency, with 26 of the 600 passengers and crew injured and nearly 40 cars in the hold incinerated.

The Tariq Ibn Ziyad was on its regular 24-hour route from Algiers to Marseille when the SOS was sounded.

When Maritime Rescue arrived on the scene, thick black smoke was pouring out of a hole in the side of the boat, together with flames. The decision was taken to accompany the ferry to the nearest land, which was Alcudia in Mallorca.

An investigation is currently underway to find out what caused the fire in the hold which incinerated 38 cars, damaged at least 25 others and injured 26 people. Of these, three suffered broken limbs during the melee on board and the other 23 were either affected by the thick black fumes or suffered anxiety attacks.

There were nearly 600 passengers and crew on board.

Passengers told rescuers in Mallorca how panic set in when the emergency was sounded. At one stage, it is being reported, there was nearly a mutiny when tempers frayed over “lack of information about what was going on.” The Tariq Ibn Ziyad had to divert to Mallorca because of the fire which happened at around 11.30pm when many people, including children, were fast asleep in their cabins. There was added trauma when the ferry collided with the docks in Alcudia at around 2.30am after trying for an hour to get in, causing damage and a power failure which plunged many of the cabins into darkness. It also left the ship slightly tilted.

The fire has been described as one of the biggest emergencies tackled in Mallorca for some time and it took fire crews ten hours to contain the blaze.