Burnt-out passenger ferry to be towed to Valencia port

The Sorrento was carrying 740 tons of fuel, prompting fears of an ecological disaster

A photo taken by a passenger of the ferry after being evacuated
A photo taken by a passenger of the ferry after being evacuatedEFE

The passenger ferry that caught fire with 156 people on board after leaving Mallorca last week will be towed on Tuesday to the port at Sagunto in Valencia, the Public Works Ministry said.

Efforts to bring the Sorrento to port had been postponed because ministry officials feared an environmental disaster when it was discovered that the ship was carrying 740 tons of fuel and other contaminating oils. There were also concerns that the ferry would sink.

The towing operation could take up to 24 hours to ensure that the vessel is brought safely to port

All the passengers were safely evacuated on April 28 after the vessel caught fire while covering its regular Mallorca-Valencia route. Witnesses said the “explosions sounded like bombs.”

The captain gave the order for everyone on board to evacuate the ferry on lifeboats.

According to government officials, the towing operation could take up to 24 hours to ensure that the vessel is brought safely to port.

Public Works Minister Ana Pastor had said that the government’s priority was to ensure that the ferry would not contaminate the Mediterranean coast.

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Ferry on Mallorca-Valencia route evacuated after fire breaks out
The ferry blaze in photos (Spanish captions)
“The explosions on board sounded like bombs going off”

Temperatures reached up to 500ºC in some parts of the vessel during the accident, she said.

The Italian shipping line Grimaldi, which had leased the vessel to Spanish company Acciona Trasmediterránea, will supervise the towing operation. The ferry will be escorted at all times by the Maritime Rescue agency’s Clara Campoamor ship, the ministry said.

The Sorrento is around 100 nautical miles from the coast of Valencia. The operation to transport it to port will move ahead at a slow pace to ensure that the ferry does not sink or that leftover fuel does not leak into the sea.

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