LANGKAWI • Fifty-two passengers of a ferry from Langkawi island heading towards a jetty in Perlis state were rescued after the vessel caught fire yesterday.
The ferry caught fire minutes after it departed from the Kuah Terminal in Langkawi.
The blaze that engulfed the ferry Dragon Star occurred 3km off Kuah, the main town on the popular holiday island in northern Malaysia.
All passengers escaped unscathed.
They were rescued by nearby vessels plying the busy sea lane between Langkawi and mainland Malaysia.
One of Malaysia's most popular holiday destinations, Langkawi is an archipelago of more than 90 islands. The islands form the federal constituency of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad.
The Kedah Fire and Rescue Department operation centre said it was told of the ferry fire at 2.48pm, and a rescue team was dispatched to the scene at 2.56pm.
A passenger first spotted the blaze and raised the alarm, the fire department said.
Videos on social media show the fire burning through the rear section of the vessel.
As the blaze spread, some passengers plunged into the sea to escape. Others quickly moved onto boats in the area.
The authorities dispatched rescue boats to the scene, aided by vessels from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and nearby vessels.
Firemen boarded the ferry to put out the fire and to ensure no passengers were trapped.
The cause of the fire was not immediately known.
THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK