A ferry carrying 170 people had to be evacuated while at sea on Tuesday afternoon, 17 miles off the coast of the Balearic island of Mallorca, due to a fire. The vessel – belonging to the company Trasmediterránea Acciona, and which was carrying passengers and cargo – had set sail shortly after midday from the port of the Palma de Mallorca bound for Valencia, on the east coast of mainland Spain.
Three members of the crew were taken by helicopter for medical treatment, after having inhaled smoke from the blaze. Two of the victims are reported to be in a serious condition, while the other suffered lighter injuries.
The Spanish coastguard sent four vessels to evacuate the passengers and crew.
When the fire first broke out the captain did not deem the situation serious enough to require evacuation
When the fire first broke out the captain did not deem the situation serious enough to require evacuation. But as the intensity of the blaze grew, all of the passengers and crew abandoned the ship using lifeboats from the starboard side, according to a statement released by the Public Works Ministry on its webpage.
The ship, called the Sorrento, issued a request for assistance at 1.50pm. The fire is reported to have started either in the engine room or the compartments where vehicles and trailers are stowed, according to sources close to the investigation into the incident.
The ferry has a capacity for 954 passengers and room for up to 150 vehicles.
Due to the fire it has suffered, the Sorrento may sink in its current position” Balearic Port Authority
“Due to the fire it has suffered, the Sorrento may sink in its current position,” the Balearic Port Authority stated via its Twitter account.
Rescue boats carrying the 152 passengers – including one baby – are due to arrive in the port of Palma at around 8pm.
According to a spokesperson from the coastguard, the evacuation is taking place 18 miles west of Dragonera, an islet off the extreme west coast of Mallorca.
The Sorrento was not carrying dangerous cargo, according to Trasmediterránea. The vessel has been operated since 2014 by the Spanish shipping line, and had been leased from another company, Grimaldi.