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All Passengers, Crews Rescued from Burning Boat

A ferry boat sailing between Yantai and Dalian caught a fire Monday, but all 698 passengers and 47 crew members in the boat were rescued safely, the Ministry of Transportation said Tuesday.

The passenger and cargo ferry Baohua caught fire at around 3 AM. Monday in Bohai Bay, on its way from Yantai in east China's Shandong Province to Dalian in northeast China's Liaoning Province. It was about 40 nautical miles from Dalian Port at the time. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire, which broke out in the boat's car compartment, was brought under control four hours later.

Liu Gongcheng, deputy director of the maritime department of the ministry, said the successful rescue indicated the improved ability of China's maritime rescue operations. 

According to the ministry, there are 26 rescue boats on duty during the golden week following May Day Holiday. When the fire broke out, the rescue boat, Beihai Rescue 159, was on patrol not far away from the Baohua. It reached the site in 27 minutes.

"The cooperation of air, land and sea rescue teams have also contributed to the success of the rescue," said the ministry. 

(Xinhua News Agency May 4, 2005)

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