Spanish emergency services rescue around 150 people from burning ferry

MADRID (REUTERS) - Spanish emergency services safely evacuated around 150 people from a burning ferry crossing the Mediterranean from the island of Mallorca to the Spanish port of Valencia, government and port authorities said on Tuesday.

The 'Sorrento' ferry, belonging to the Italian company Atlantica di Navigazione although operated by Trasmediterranea-Acciona, sent out distress signals, the Ministry of Public Works said in a statement.

Spanish newspaper websites showed pictures of the ferry belching out great clouds of black smoke.

Although the captain did not initially want to evacuate the ferry, passengers and crew eventually left the burning vessel in lifeboats, the ministry said.

The port authority said 170 passengers were rescued.

Sea rescue services could not confirm the number.

Acciona could not immediately comment. Atlantica di Navigazione could not be immediately reached for comment.

The burnt-out ferry could sink in the position where the rescue was carried out at 56km off the Mallorcan coast, the Balearic Island port authority said.