US & Canada

More than 500 evacuated aboard Puerto Rican ferry after fire

Ferry photo Image copyright Reuters
Image caption People reportedly slid down the sides of the ferry into rescue rafts

More than 500 people have been evacuated from a ferry off the coast of Puerto Rico after it caught fire on Wednesday.

No one is missing and no fatalities were reported.

The US Coast Guard evacuated the passengers from the Caribbean Fantasy ship and escorted them to safety in the capital of San Juan.

The cause of the fire is unclear but it started in the ship's engine room, a Coast Guard spokeswomen said.

No serious injuries were reported but only preliminary medical reports were given. Puerto Rico's fire chief Angel Crespo said: "At this stage the priority is attending to the people.

"There is probably dehydration and nervous shock, but we can confirm that nearly 500 people are all on the way to port."

'Burst fuel hose'

Gyno Funes was one of two mechanics who says he was in the ship's control room when a fuel hose burst and caught fire.

The other mechanic, Marlon Doblado, said they had worked to extinguish the fire for two hours without success.

According to the Associated Press news agency, many of the passengers are children including several young athletic teams on their way to compete in Puerto Rico.

The ship runs between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic several times each week and was arriving in San Juan when the fire occurred.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Onlookers captured the fire on their mobile phones