Reuters - Friday, 3-00 am Bahrain time
- In all, there were 150 passengers
- Six Indians, one South African, one Briton, one Palestinian and two Singaporeans among survivors
Manama, Mar 31: A passenger boat carrying some 150 tourists sank in a harbour in Bahrain on Thursday and the country's interior minister said at least 44 people drowned.
Witnesses put the death toll higher, saying at least 48 bodies were brought ashore.
Interior Minister Sheikh Rashed bin Abdullah al-Khalifa said: "The operations are continuing, and up to this time we have 52 rescued and 44 dead."
The vessel was believed to have taken out the tourists for a short tour of the Gulf, a hospital source said.
"I have seen at least 48 bodies," said a resident, speaking by telephone from outside a port in the island state.
The official news agency BNA said 60 passengers had been rescued and taken to hospitals.
"There were about 150 on the ship. Many on board were rescued," a Bahraini official said. He declined to say how many may have died.
Bahrain's Health Minister Nada Haffadh told Al Arabiya television that a group of 11 rescued passengers included six Indians, one South African, one Briton, one Palestinian and two Singaporeans. She said all were in stable condition.
The British Foreign Office in London said it was "very likely" the ship was carrying British passengers.
British diplomats were at the Bahrain coastguard centre and the hospital where survivors and the dead were being taken, the spokesman said.
Commander Jeff Breslau, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy's 5th fleet which is based in Bahrain, said 16 Navy divers and a U.S. ship were assisting in rescue efforts. He said the boat had sunk in a harbour close to the shore.
"The first report we received was that a dhow (traditional wooden boat) has capsized. We are preparing a helicopter to join the rescue," Breslau said.
"There is no initial indication that this was an attack."