Fire breaks out on S. Korean ferry, The Seolbong, 7 people injured

Updated: 07 Sep 2011
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MORE than 120 people abandoned a ferry that caught fire off South Korea's southern coast early today, with many of them jumping into the water before being rescued, the coastguard and reports said.

The Seolbong, bound south-west from Busan to Jeju island, was near Yeosu on the south coast of the mainland when fire broke out in the hold.

The coastguard sent dozens of patrol boats. All 128 people on board the ferry evacuated the smoldering vessel, starting with the old, children and pregnant women, MBC TV said.

Many passengers descended ropes and jumped into the water before being rescued. Dazed and exhausted, faces blackened by smoke, the passengers were later dropped off at Yeosu port.

Seven people were slightly injured and taken to the hospital for treatment, the coastguard said.

It was not immediately clear what started the fire but a crewman said he had seen smoke billowing out of the hold. An investigation was underway.
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